Flawed Fairy Tales – The fairy tales our children read or watch actually have depressing themes – abandonment, death, murder, gender stereotypes. Are you comfortable letting your child read or watch them?

I have been reading stories to my son since he was an infant. That was a time when he loved looking at the colourful pages. Now he is going to be three in a month’s time and enjoys our bedtime story sessions. I keep collecting new books for his tiny library. Now he’s at a stage where he likes stories about kings, animals, magicians and et all. That’s when the mom in me thought, why not introduce the moral stories and fairy tales to Mr B.

And that’s when I started re-visiting the Fairy Tales that I have grown up on. I still remember having board book of Goldilocks, Peter Pan, Hansel and Gretel which I loved reading as a kid. I had my own collection of Ladybird books which I have passed on to my son. But now when I read these books, as a mom – I am not okay with it. I am not comfortable reading these flawed fairy tales.

Flawed Fairy Tales

flawed fairy tales

 #1 Hansel and Gretel

We all have read Hansel and Gretel as a kid, haven’t we? The hapless brother and sister who are left in the forest by their father, because the step-mom wishes for so. They manage to get back following the trail of stones. They are left back again and gets kidnapped by the witch.

flawed fairy tales Hansel and Gretel


I have read that book to my son a few times. We have this thing in our house where we can ask as many questions as we want. I encourage my son to ask questions and interact when I am reading to him. But what do I answer when a two and half-year-old exclaims “bad mommy” or ask “why did daddy put them in the jungle”? Do I really want him to grow up with the concept of bad mommies, or spineless dads? No, I am not comfortable with such flawed fairy tales.

Behind all the glitz of gingerbread house and candies, there’s a witch trying to eat a kid. How am I supposed to explain to a toddler – you should be fearful of people – specially at this age. I don’t want him to grow with the concept of fear.

#2 Jack and the Bean Stalk

Whenever I go shopping for my son, I pick up a story book for him, the latest being Jack and the Bean Stalk. It’s a story about how Jack gets some magic seeds and an enormous bean stalk grows out of them. He can reach a giant’s house up in the cloud. The giant’s wife gives him food, but he ends up taking (stealing) a bag of treasure. Next time around he steals the hen that lays a golden egg. When the Giant catches hold of him, Jack (who’s a little boy) chops off the bean stalk, the giant falls crashing down and dies. If all this was not enough, Jack then lives with his mother, ‘happily ever after’ being rich!

I had not read this story earlier, nor did I read it while buying the book – I sometimes wish why didn’t I! What are we teaching our children – IS IT ABSOLUTELY OK TO STEAL? Is it okay to kill someone when you are in trouble and live happily with SOMEONE ELSE’S MONEY?

jack and the bean stalk flawed fairy tales

image source

Is that what we are teaching our kids? Is that what we want them to grow up thinking – it’s no big deal to live off someone’s money and not work hard for it?

As a mum, I don’t want my son to grow up with such trash thoughts or values. If a kid does anything remotely similar to Jack, the mum should be worried. Very worried.

#3 Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel – The Step Mom Brigade

Everyone knows these stories, as a kid I had my mum read them to me. In all these stories there are two things that are common – the step mom is always evil and it’s only and ONLY your physical beauty that is of importance. Nothing else matters. You always need to wait for your prince charming to come and rescue you from your misery.

But why? Why enforce such gender stereotypes on such young and impressionable minds? Why can’t anything else be of importance in a girl? Why do girls need to feel helpless? Why girls need to grow up thinking they have to be beautiful like Barbie or else no guy is going to ask her out on a date! It comes down to that only, isn’t it? ABSOLUTELY NO SELF-WORTH?? 

And why does a young boy need to feel he HAS TO BE handsome, brave, powerful and ALWAYS in search of a woman who is beautiful – and no other attributes are necessary.

The story of Cinderella needs to be thrown out of the window – girls don’t need such damsel in distress theories, not in this age.

Flawed Fairy Tales - Cinderella

#4 Arabian Nights

I was so tired of fishing out content, I ended up picking up Arabian nights for him. The book starts with a description of what the Arabian Nights is all about. How a queen was unfaithful towards the king and he decided to marry a girl every day and kill her the next day.

When a three-year old asks “what’s unfaithful”, “why is queen unfaithful” you seriously don’t know whether you want to answer that. Does a three-year old need to know about complexities of relationships? NO, not yet.

Why are we Enforcing Archaic Gender Stereotypes even in 2018?

Storytelling, reading is a great habit to inculcate in young children. My son now loves his story sessions and doesn’t want to nap without them. Me, as a mum, have to really fish out the kind of stories I want to read to him. But when I ordered a collection of books for him, it invariably came along with the likes of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast!

Do we really need these kinds of fairy tales in 2018? Do we still need to enforce such pre historic, irrelevant ideas on young tender minds? Aren’t we feeding our boys wrong ideas that you HAVE to seek the most beautiful girl? And have her any which way (I am referring to Beauty and the Beast). I am not willing to do that.

Maybe we should all start following the Scandinavian Schools – they actually did away with the flawed fairy tales!

Some of the moral stories and fables of the Panchatantra still makes sense – because they do teach values – they were written around 300 BCE but still are worth.

What am I trying to do as a mom?

Yes, I am not comfortable in feeding such trash ideology to my son. I don’t want him to grow up thinking your sole purpose of life is to find a beautiful girl and get married! If I had a daughter, I wouldn’t want her to develop insecurity complex from such antediluvian gender typecasts.

While I do filter the content that I want to read and pick up only those books that are free of such labels, I am also trying to build up stories on the daily situations that we are facing. I try making up stories about food (he hates food, I have to glorify food every minute of the day), stories about sharing food, sharing toys.

I guess, I need to keep doing that as he grows – pick up situations from his daily routine and build stories that makes sense, instead of just reading out stories from the books! Yes, if I can write so many fictions, I bloody well make up good stories for my little man. What do you do, mums? How do you make sure your tiny ones are getting to know relevant ideologies? Let me know what do you think about flawed fairy tales.


28 Comments on Flawed Fairy Tales: Why I’m not comfortable reading these fairy tales to my toddler

  1. Neha
    June 28, 2018 at 11:35 am (9 months ago)

    I hate such stereotype fairy tales myself and I have been introducing folk tales like panchatantra, Aesop’s tales etc. They might have talking animals but they also have moral values.

  2. Jhilmil D Saha
    June 28, 2018 at 12:00 pm (9 months ago)

    Oh never thought of this angle. Thats an interesting way of thinking actually. However, i had enjoyed reading these fairy tales as a kid.

  3. Rashi Mital
    June 28, 2018 at 12:14 pm (9 months ago)

    I agree, Tina. In fact, i wrote a post on the exact same topic. And while reading it was like me who was talking again. I have, like you, started making up my own stories on whatever situation my daughter is in. Considering that kids as young as 3 question everything, it’s important to see what they are being told. I’d like if u read my post too. https://liveityoung.com/why-i-dont-read-fairy-tales-to-my-children/ 🙂
    Rashi Mital recently posted…#MeToo #IAmSheMy Profile

  4. S. R. Pateliya
    June 28, 2018 at 3:47 pm (9 months ago)

    Absolutely!! And that’s why rebel girls is my current favorite!!

  5. Gurjeet Chhabra
    June 28, 2018 at 5:10 pm (9 months ago)

    seriously Never though of it like this before. Its really make no sense to tell story of fairy tales.

  6. Mrinal
    June 28, 2018 at 5:15 pm (9 months ago)

    OMG! I had no idea about the story of jack and the bean! That’s ridiculous! How can they even print such books for kids! We need to grow up and mature… We need to start reading books about strength, courage and bravery to kids rather than fairy tales! And I had seen somewhere a kids bedtime book based on lives of important and successful people!

  7. SiddhiPalande
    June 28, 2018 at 8:36 pm (9 months ago)

    I absolutely agree with the thought that these flawed fairy tales may have a Deep Impact on the minds of our children and so I often try making up stories or recite those that aren’t cliche fairytale esque but come with a moral

  8. Deborah Miranda
    June 28, 2018 at 10:53 pm (9 months ago)

    I so agree with your observations and share the same concerns. I know most people will say it is just a story and just for entertainment but when it comes to the kids who would be able to explain the difference to them?

  9. Priyanka Patwari
    June 28, 2018 at 11:34 pm (9 months ago)

    I am enjoying a lot reading these fairy tales with my daughter.. She love Cinderella a lot..

  10. Papri Ganguly
    June 29, 2018 at 12:28 am (9 months ago)

    Can’t agree more with your thoughts.That’s I bought my kids only moral story books. At least they make sense

  11. Akanksha
    June 29, 2018 at 7:19 am (9 months ago)

    I do Not read bedtime stories from books but like to create stories with some morals. I agree with your thought and totally support you for not reading such books for your child. Often flawed stories leave a negative impact in our kids minds and which we do not want.

  12. Rohini James
    June 29, 2018 at 9:06 am (9 months ago)

    I have always liked the way you think and that is evident from the topics you choose to write about. There is no better time but when our kids are small to teach them more about reality than these nonsensical fairy tales.

  13. Amitoj Kaur
    June 29, 2018 at 2:23 pm (9 months ago)

    Your post is really thoughtful and has led me into thinking process whether I should read these kinds of fairy tales to my son or not. He is also 3 and we love reading together. He needs to hear a different and a new story everyday. Till now I haven’t read any of such fairy tales to him and was planning to. But now I think better not to. Love your post

  14. Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
    June 29, 2018 at 5:25 pm (9 months ago)

    Its something that bugged me a lot growing up too.. As you said, we grew up reading this but later on when you read the history behind these tales and their original version, you figure out that these were really not right for kids at all! Some would actually make good horror stories with a little tweaking!
    Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan recently posted…When Celebrities Came Together to wish a Bullied Child #WATWBMy Profile

  15. Pooja Kawatra
    June 30, 2018 at 1:13 pm (9 months ago)

    I can so relate to it and when reading these books I always have this thought that we have raising our daughters to just look beautiful and why not self confident.

  16. Geethica Mehra
    June 30, 2018 at 9:19 pm (9 months ago)

    Hmmmm… I have also grown up listening and later on reading these fairy tales and I loved them. But yes, I don’t remember reading to my kids. Maybe the times have changed and we want our kids to live in reality
    Geethica Mehra recently posted…This service is open 24 hoursMy Profile

  17. Mahak
    July 1, 2018 at 7:09 pm (9 months ago)

    I have thought about this too and I am not comfortable telling these stories to my son. On the other hand, my mom says that our generation is overthinking it. We all grew up listening to these stories and we are fine. So honestly I am still confused about this topic and whether I will be reading these books to my son or not

  18. Shilpa Garg
    July 2, 2018 at 12:56 pm (9 months ago)

    This is thought provoking post. Agree with you that some of these fairy tales are totally irrelevant and promote gender stereotypes which we are trying so hard to break. Books that promote meaningful values and have life lessons should be selected for young kids.

  19. Kapila
    July 2, 2018 at 3:51 pm (9 months ago)

    I have read , enacted in May fairy tale shows in my school time. Even today my daughter loves the fairy tale princess. I think what is important is telling them that what is right and what is wrong.

  20. Shub
    July 2, 2018 at 7:03 pm (9 months ago)

    I agree to your perspective. Fairy Tales are entertaining but kids can take it too seriously which is not that great.

  21. Gunjan
    July 3, 2018 at 12:09 am (9 months ago)

    I had somehow enjoyed all these story during my early years. .. But I feel so difficult to explain my little one about the “evil moms, so even I don’t read such books to my son

  22. Bikramjit
    September 9, 2018 at 9:18 pm (6 months ago)

    I agree with you


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