March retelling link-up | Fairytales are over?

It is March already, can you believe it? How is your progress so far, are you on schedule? Here is the master sign-up post. At the end of this post you can put links to your challenge page/post and every review you post on your blog. Please make this easy to navigate by putting it like this:

UPDATE  @ your name/blog name.
REVIEW – book title @ your name/blog name.

Don't forget to check out Away to whimsical fairy tale land. In this event people will analyze fairy tales and their meaning & retellings. This sounds perfect to me! I also want to link back to a post I made a while back, you might be interested in it: a fairytale survey. Also, don't forget to use the hash tag #FairytaleRC so I can keep up with all your tweets.


“The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.” - Tolkien.

Today I want to start a discussion about the fact that a lot of people feel that fairytales have lost their magic or that they should be forbidden because of the wrong message they give to children.
UChicago scholar of Renaissance and contemporary culture and early-modern Italian literature Maggie believes that fairytales have lost their magic. He calls it an ‘exhausted art-form’ and now I quote from the Uchicago article: “The glass slippers and poison apples, the evil stepmothers and fairy godmothers and princes charming—and the kisses that lead to happily ever after—these things no longer exert much imaginative or intellectual force.” He feels it’s time for new stories, because “It’s just that the stories we’ve been using—mythic stories, fairy tales, legends—they’re not working anymore. We need something new. What we long for is a remythologization of reality.”

In a way, I get where the is going. It’s true that we are reusing old stories, but based on selling numbers I say that these stories still work for us. Movies and books nowadays are also often about the same topics and use the same basic things. Superhero movies use the same principle and yet, we seem to long for this. Why would it be so bad to use ‘unimaginative stories’ to create something new? I think it's great when you can make something new and refreshing. Taking inspiration from other stories and creating your own content is a challenge and I think there is nothing wrong with re-using older stories if you make it your own. I think fairytales are ageless stories that will survive like all classics as Pride and Prejudice & Romeo and Juliet. They will always stay magical to me and their messages will always be important to remember.

This article in The Telegraph even shares a list of fairytales that are no longer read to children, with the main reason that they are too scary.

1. Hansel and Gretel - Details two kids abandoned in the forest and likely to scare young children
2. Jack and the Beanstalk - Deemed too 'unrealistic'.
3. Gingerbread Man - Would be uncomfortable explaining gingerbread man gets eaten by a fox
4. Little Red Riding Hood - Deemed unsuitable by parents who have to explain a young girl's grandmother has been eaten by a wolf.
5. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves - the term dwarves was found to be inappropriate
6.  Cinderella - Story about a young girl doing all the housework was outdated.
7. Rapunzel - Parents were worried about the focus on a young girl being kidnapped.
8. Rumplestiltskin - Wouldn't be happy reading about executions and kidnapping
9. Goldilocks and the Three Bears - Sends the wrong messages about stealing
10. Queen Bee - Inappropriate as the story has a character called Simpleton ENDS

Sure, the original fairytales have a grim and dark tone, but I grew up with the mild version (like Disney) and toned down stories. Later on I moved forward to the original tales and I never found any of these scary or strange. This was an interesting article: Fairy tales or scary tales: Should we sanitize stories for our kids? and I have to agree with Prof. Zipes, who says the following: "the notion that we should shield children from dark fairy tales is “hypocritical – the honest thing is to tell children violence does occur. The world is filled with struggle and conflict.”

When I read Cinderella I was enchanted by the fact that she turned into a princess by a fairy. Hansel & Gretel was a movie I loved, because it was so exciting when they were captured by the witch. Rapunzel; such a beautiful hair! I think we put too much thought into these tales and prevent children from finding out on their own what crosses their lines. I think children will see more scary things on TV and I think they can handle more than we think. I also believe they don’t see the stories the way we see them, because of their own imagination and innocence.

The last thing I want to share with you is this: On fairy stories. I could not say it any better than this.
Tolkien suggests that fairy stories allow the reader to review his own world from the "perspective" of a different world. This concept, which shares much in common with phenomenology, Tolkien calls "recovery," in the sense that one's unquestioned assumptions might be recovered and changed by an outside perspective. Second, he defends fairy stories as offering escapist pleasure to the reader, justifying this analogy: a prisoner is not obliged to think of nothing but cells and wardens. And third, Tolkien suggests that fairy stories (can) provide moral or emotional consolation, through their happy ending, which he terms a "eucatastrophe".

How do you feel about this? Are fairytales too much for children and out-dated?


  1. Woah, this is a really fascinating topic Mel, especially your break down of the fairy tales that aren't read to children. We were all brought up on fairy tales and I think we grew up okay. It's articles like this that make me think, children don't think like adults do. They wouldn't necessary look into things as much as we do and think it's disturbing. It's nice to have a sense of wonder you know? Because that's what it's about to be a kid. We can't treat kids with glass gloves and think they'll never experience anything scary/disturbing/etc.

    1. I think we should let children free to explore what they think is too scary - and I think parents will find out they look differently at things than we do.

  2. I don't think today's children are that different from, let's say they were twelve years ago so I doubt they'd find these fairy tales too scary. Plus as Jeann mentioned above children don't think like adults, they won't start to analyze the story by certain aspects, and won't try to see a second meaning behind everything. They'll most likely enjoy them, like we all should do.

    When people say things like this about fairytales I always get so annoyed because these days children get their own computers, tvs, mobiles at a very young age and watch, play things that aren't suitable for their age. While fairytales might not be up to date, they let the children be children for a longer time, plus many of them have things to teach too.

    Awesome topic! :)

    1. I completely agree with you. I get annoyed when people throw this around like it's the truth, because it's just an opinion (one that I don't agree with and luckily, I see more people who disagree)

  3. Fairy tales not working anymore?? I feel like they're hotter than ever nowadays! There are so many awesome retellings (that are also very succesful!). I agree with you that they will live on and will remain popular. I'll definitely read fairy tales to my children!

    And the reasons those fairy tales aren't read anymore... Seriously?

    Great post!

    1. I already look forward to those moments where I can read fairytales to my children :D

  4. Gorgeous post Mel. <3 Hoping to maybe be able to join in on this later this year :D I read many books in January. Which was awesome. But only read 3 in February :( so can't sign up for this amazing challenge yet, sigh. But maybe later this year. <3 Anyway. You are amazing :)

  5. Great post! I cannot believe the reasons why some of those fairy tales are frowned upon. Crazy. I don't think fairy tales are too scary for kids at all. I think sometimes adults tend to coddle kids and treat them like they can't handle that stuff. At least, that is what happens as time goes by. It's sad.

  6. Deemed too 'unrealistic'.

    This is just... what?! The point of storytelling is to push boundaries and expand your imagination. Especially for kids! Those are just silly explanations. I can't believe how much people shelter their children these days.

  7. FAIRY TALES CANNOT BE OUTDATED. *stamps foot* I think that's the whole point of them: they're ageless and appeal to every generation. I love how so many fairy tales are getting a reboot and coming back for another stand. And hey, there are always new generations of kids. So maybe we adults have read Cinderella 2 billion times, but younger people haven't. And I also don't think these stories are too scary. x) Although, maybe for some particular little kids? Eh, whatever. My point is I do not think they can be outdated and I think they'll always mean something to us. *nods*

    1. YES. That is how I feel about them too. We don't throw away all our classics because they are outdated, so why would it be different with fairytales?

  8. I agree! The truly great stories are the ones that survive generations of story telling. New and original stories are great, but why get rid of something that still works. It's like he thinks you can't have both :/ I think some parents shelter their kids a little too much or try to be too politically correct when it comes to fairy tale stories. Honestly, I don't think children look that much into it at such a young age.

  9. Unlike lots of other kids, I didn't really grow up being with my parents telling me about fairy tales. I watched all the Disney movies and interpreted them all on my own, but I can surely say that I was never freaked out or scared by all the dark aspects present in those. In fact, they made the story more exciting for me, even as a kid.

    These stories definitely reflect the world as it was then, and even how it is now. There will always be negative things about the world, and I believe that it's better for children to find those out early on, rather than being shocked by them when they grow up.

    And I adore retellings! I guess they aren't completely unique, but the various authors' different takes on them definitely bring a breath of fresh air, and sometimes bring our beloved characters to circumstances we've never even thought of ourselves.

    Fantastic post, Mel! Thanks for sharing. <3

  10. It's incredible that people do feel that fairy tales are 'outdated' or no longer have meaning for us! These stories are timeless, and the archetypes recur in any new story. I can understand not wanting your child to read some of the darker, scarier stuff, but that should be up to the parent, and eventually I'm sure that if the child enjoys fairy tales they will come to appreciate all of them like I did. That telegraph list was surprising too because there are some fairy tales on there that I would definitely not think is going out of style - like Cinderella! Tolkien's take on fairy tales is perfect!

    Oh and hank you Mel for linking to the our fairy tale event! :)

  11. I can't believe that people think that fairytales are scary.The beauty of fairytales is that they tell us a magical story with real problems and morals,and make it easier for children-and even adults-to learn the reality of life since it combines them with magic.
    And fairytales will never be outdated!They'll always be the first stories children read and listen to.
    Great post by the way,Mel!

  12. Thank you so much for plugging AWFairyTale! <3

    I agree that fairytales are ageless stories. I don't think you have to be of a certain age to enjoy fairytales. As long as it makes you happy and ignites your imagination, after all. :)

  13. I bet you these are the same parents that are okay with their kids seeing Iron Man or Spider Man movies with tons of violent content.

  14. Oh man. I still haven't read any fairytale retelling so far! *ashamed*
    However I have started "Cruel Beauty" and I do like it very much so far :)

    Best wishes!

  15. Just a few days ago I was reading the forward to my copy of Grimms and thought it was amusing that when the brothers began editing them with children in mind they cut out a lot of the sexual references but kept, and in some cases intensified, the violence. This is still so common when media is being judged for children today. I have a four and a five year old and I avoid both in visual media since they seem to be more prone to mimicking what they watch and are still really young. In stories the meaning, whether literal or symbolic, behind the action feels more present and makes for better exploration. Plus like anything there are numerous versions that speak to different developmental stages.Kids are so different too. My 4 year old has very adverse reactions to scary things where as my five year old finds the morbid and scary to be fascinating, which isn't really so different from adults in the end.

    I've written reviews for a few retellings lately and have more in the pipe...are late joiners allowed and if so do we just post under the monthly link-ups since the master sign up is closed? I didn't start blogging until February and only just found this blog and challenge now. It looks fun!


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