It’s National Bookstart Week! What’s Your Favourite Fairy Tale?

‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’

Albert Einstein

Picture 10When was the last time you read a fairytale? National Bookstart Week is a great opportunity to showcase how much fun families can have with books, stories, rhymes and other fun activities. All around the country, libraries, nurseries, children’s centres, bookshops and other venues are taking part to help families discover the magic of fairy tales.

A recent survey of over 1,000 people conducted by Opinium on behalf of Booktrust found that both children and parents show a traditional gender divide when choosing their favourite fairy tales. When asked to name their own favourite fairy tale, 32% of mums chose Cinderella and 30% of dads chose Jack and the Beanstalk. When asked to name their children’s favourites, the same tales came out top for their sons and daughters. 34% of those with daughters named Cinderella and 27% of parents with sons named Jack and the Beanstalk as the favourite.

When asked about favourite characters, girls were also more likely to choose female characters, with four out of the top five choices being female. Boys were more likely to include ‘villains’ in their favourites, with the Troll from Three Billy Goats Gruff, the Big Bad Wolf from the Three Little Pigs and the wolf from Red Riding Hood all featuring in their top ten favourite characters. The Ugly Stepsisters were the least popular overall.

The survey also found that 3 in 10 parents choose not to read fairy tales at all with their children. When prompted for a reason, 51% of these parents said their child was too old, 23% said their child was too young, and 17% said their child simply didn’t like fairy tales. Of those parents who said their child was too old for fairy tales, their children were mainly aged seven and older. Of those parents who said their child didn’t like fairy tales, they were overwhelmingly more likely to be referring to a son than a daughter.

I admit it – we have a silly amount of books in the house… but when I read this I thought hard and realised that the only traditional fairy tales we own are a few variations on the Three Little Pigs (actually a current favourite for the 6yr old is the Three Little wolves), and we have a very sparkly version of Sleeping Beauty from the Ella Bella Ballerina series.

I feel a little uncomfortable that after a little quizzing it became apparent that my well-read children just don’t know the story of the Ugly Duckling, and only have basic children’s version of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, The Three Billy Goats Gruff (my own personal childhood favourite)… and have no clue who Rumpelstiltskin is. Anything that hasn’t been Disney-fied was pretty much a no-show.

So I’ve just bought this…

bookstart week fairytales


So what was the last fairy tale you read? What’s YOUR favourite?

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s so true. It’s hard to find fairy stories nowadays compared with the gorgeous looking books that you see more frequently.

    We have Billy Goats Gruff and 3 little pigs – but the stories don’t quite seem right to me. They just don’t appeal to me as much as some of the Julia Donaldson and other picture books, although maybe I’ll now look out an anthology as well.

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