Fairy Tales - Children's Books, Cinderella, Fairy Tales, Picture Books and More

Where It All Began

There is a true benefit to fairy tales - they are simple and, because of their simplicity, they can be molded into a variety of situations and time periods. Scholars think that fairy tales had their beginnings at the firesides or spinning circles of peasants and were told to keep each other awake, or perhaps to break the monotony. Have you ever noticed how many fairy tales have a spinning wheel in them? Early illustrations of tellers of fairy tells show them spinning as they tell their stories. The phrase, spinning a yarn, that is telling a story, probably comes from that source. Judging from the tales originally told, they were rude and likely meant for adults rather than children. However, over time the endless retelling of these fairy stories resulted in tellers matching the stories to their audiences.

Who Wrote Cinderella?

Of all the children's books, Cinderella is probably still one of the favorites. It continues to be made and remade into movies, generally following the story line Walt Disney used to create the first motion picture cartoon of the timeless tale. A few years ago, one scholar counted 345 versions of Cinderella, so it is difficult to say exactly who the original author of the Cinderella fairy tale is. The one most of us are familiar with is the Disney version where Cinderella forgives her nasty step-mother and ill-mannered step-sisters. This version is based on the first print edition of the story as written by Charles Perrault, who was born in France in 1628. He used to meet with French aristocratic women and their daughters and swap fairy tales. A collection of eight fairy tales was published by him in 1697 that came to be known as Tales of Mother Goose. Since Perrault's audience was genteel and sophisticated, he revised the stories to have milder content, more pleasant endings, and the characters in the books were all dressed in the fashion of the day, had impeccable manners and lived in splendid homes with ballrooms and servants. Today's version of Cinderella follows this path.

Children's Fairy Tale Picture Books

Children's fairy tale picture books are easy to find in any book store, library, or online. Pictures do a lot to enhance a story, especially a fairy tale. When a child can see a dragon on a page, breathing fire, or a beautiful princess in a gown that glitters, it imprints the story that much more onto their minds. Illustrated children's books are a wonderful way to share tales with your children.  Children love to have posters and pictures of their favorite fairy tale characters on their walls and even their clothing.

There are dozens of fairy tale activities for children as well. Many of them can be found on the internet, especially on teaching sites where you can learn how to incorporate crafts, worksheets, printable coloring pictures and other fairy tale activities for children into your child's fairy tale experience. Dress up is always fun for kids, and acting out the fairy tale in a group is great. There are songs, puppets, cut-outs and retelling of the stories that makes for imaginative times with your children.

When children are young, the simple fairy tales are easy to understand and easy for them to remember. Such stories as The Gingerbread Man, Stone Soup, The Three Pigs, Snow While, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Frog Prince continue to be at the forefront of fairy tales that are both simple and memorable for children.

Fables, A Different Form of Children's Wonder

Another form of literature that appeals to children is fables. Children's books of fables are different from fairy stories in that the fable is a succinct story that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature, like the wind, rain, and clouds, stars, the moon and sun, that are given human qualities and characteristics. A fable gives a lesson, or a moral, that is explained at the end in a quotable saying. One such saying that you'll recognize immediately is, Slow and steady wins the race. This quote comes from Aesop's fable The Tortoise and The Hare. Fables go back a long, long, way. Aesop wrote his fables in the mid-6th century BCE. A teller of fables is called a fabulist, and some renowned fabulists of the last two centuries include Leo Tolstoy, Sholom Aleichem, George Orwell, Franz Kafka, and the children's fabulists, Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Hans Christian Anderson, and of course, The Brothers Grimm.

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