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Why fairy tales should not be read out to children

Post by: Deepti Khanna

Being a young mother I am continuously on the lookout of good parenting ideas and techniques to help raise my little one. While reading one of my favourite blogs I chanced upon a line that said the Montessori school of thought is against reading fairy tales to children. While I was shocked at this revelation I decided to dig deep into this theory. Here are the arguments:



Stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Rapunzel  are not read out by families since they believe it will leave the young minds emotionally damaged. Many parents also refused to read Little Red Riding Hood to their kids because she walks through woods alone and finds her grandmother eaten by a wolf. Many parents argue that Rapunzel was considered "too dark" for kids to stomach and Cinderella has been dumped amid fears she is treated like a slave and forced to do all the housework.



Devalina Sen, 32, a mother-of-two from Hydreabad: "I enjoyed reading Sleeping Beauty and Goldilocks, but I did not have the heart to read The Gingerbread Man or Hansel and Gretel to my kids. They are so depressing. In fact, as a child I remember not having good sleeping after being read these stories when I was young."



Most parents believe that they have given Hansel and Gretel a miss because the children were abandoned in a forest - and it may unnecessarily make their kids insecure. Also quite a few parents did not like to read The Gingerbread Man as he gets cheated and eaten by a fox.



Another very relevant criticism of fairy tales is that these stories impart the message that unattractive people are evil. Further, most protagonists of the fairy tales are damsels in distress with them, not having a mother who loves and cares for them, but in most cases these girls have a stepmother who is cruel, crafty and evil to say the least.



Also, the actual versions of the fairy tales are a lot bloodier and disturbing than you can ever imagine. Here’s an excerpt from the original Cindrella:

the nasty step-sisters cut off parts of their own feet in order to fit them into the glass slipper — hoping to fool the prince. The prince is alerted to the trickery by two pigeons who peck out the step sister’s eyes. They end up spending the rest of their lives as blind beggars while Cinderella gets to lounge about in luxury at the prince’s castle.



And here’s an excerpt from The Little Mermaid. The way Hans Christian Andersen wrote it,

the mermaid sees the Prince marry a princess and she despairs. She is offered a knife with which to stab the prince to death, but rather than do that she jumps into the sea and dies by turning to froth.

Hans Christian Andersen later rewrote the ending slightly to make it read a little more pleasant. In his new ending, instead of dying when turned to froth, she becomes a “daughter of the air” waiting to go to heaven, which again means that she is dead.



Nevertheless, most people regard The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle as a nice and entertaining option. This tale, which tells the story of a greedy caterpillar eating too much food, was written in 1969. Other popular choices of children's books that are sure to entertain are The Gruffalo and Winnie the Pooh.

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