Fairytales always contain some truth. They are educational and entertaining at the same time and are suitable for both children and adults. Storytelling is an ancient and beautiful tradition of human beings that should continue to exist. That’s why we have 10 wonderful fairy tales for you and three tips on how best to tell them.
Worth knowing about fairy tales
Fairytales are at home all over the world. Classical fairy tales are the stories that have spread across generations and countries. From their oral tradition, they were preserved in Germany primarily by the Brothers Grimm for posterity. Nevertheless the fairy tales did not keep the form written down there. They are still being picked up and changed today. But their core is known to all. A survey by the literary magazine “Bücher” found that 51 percent of adults know the story of Snow White, 44 percent know Hansel and Gretel and 32 percent know about the history of Little Red Riding Hood.
Fairy tales today and earlier: Disney vs. Brothers Grimm
Like many people before him, Walter Elias Disney was fascinated by fairy tales and made it his mission to retell and retell them. For well-known cinema productions, among other things, he served the children’s and house fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Also in later productions after his death (1966) they found their place. His first full-length feature film was “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) and based on the grim “Snow White”, followed by “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) inspired by the eponymous Grimms model and also “Tangled Rapunzel” (2010) , “Kiss the Frog” (2009) is reminiscent of Grimm’s “Froschkönig or Der eiserne Heinrich”. The remake of “Cinderella” (2015) is also based on Grimm’s “Cinderella”. [The first version “Cinderella” (1950) was based on a French “Cinderella” variant by Charles Perrault.]
Mainly the Disney productions are different from the Grimm versions, barely containing violence. Care is taken that they are child-friendly and not too brutal. Grimm and Disney in common is the happy ending and the moral. In addition, the Disney Company has filmed many other fairy tales from around the world (such as Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin or Arielle, the little mermaid).
Folk fairy tale vs. Kunstmärchen
The main difference between folk tales and art fairy tales lies in the fact that the folktale was handed down orally and was in constant change of the time. That is, it has been passed down for many years and generations. Since there was no book printing and the narrated fairy tales could not yet be recorded, it was important to always reflect some key elements of the story. This is also one of the most important features of fairy tales in general: they all carry definite, essential and timeless core elements. So it does not matter what wording or embellishment is used. As long as the core of the story is preserved, one also understands the meaning. In Germany, the most famous representatives of folk tales are the brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. In the case of art fairy tales, it is the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen.
Art fairy tales imitate this narrative style. However, they are – in contrast to folktales – attributed to a particular author and were recorded from the beginning in writing. They are a kind of ‘new fairy tale’, which are decorated with more detailed descriptions, but pick up typical motifs and narrative styles. They often give the characters more inner expressiveness and let them also undergo changes.
The collection of fairy tales of the brothers Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm is known under the title “Children’s and Household Fairy Tales” (KHM). They were published between 1812 and 1858. The brothers made it their mission to write down all sorts of oral storytelling and to hold it for posterity. As a pedagogical guide with a clear separation of good and evil, they should teach children important morality. But the influence of this project extends to all fairy tale research. The handwritten copies of the brothers even belong to the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage.
Unbelievably many people know the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Most of them met us as a child and are still in our memories as adults. We have listed some of the best-known children’s and house fairy tales here for you. You can also find some of them as full text in this article. Just read it for yourself to evoke childhood memories or read them to your children to uphold this beautiful tradition.
The valiant dressmaker
Puss in Boots
The rabbit and the hedgehog
The wolf and the seven young kids
The golden goose
Table, deck yourself, donkey stretch, stick out of the bag
The star talers
Hans in hapiness
Hansel and Gretel
Fairy tale, of one who set out to learn to fear
Little Red Riding Hood
Snow White and Rose Red
From the fisherman and his wife
The frog king or Iron Henry
Other folk tales from all over the world
Since not only the Brothers Grimm were involved in the worldwide fairy tale treasure, we have here a few more fairy tales from all over the world for you. Maybe you already know one or the other or have seen a movie. In particular, if you already know many of the German-born fairy tales, you should look around in other cultures. There you will find, for example, instructive stories of ghosts, dragons and the Chinese Empire or exciting legends and wisdom from the Orient.
Beauty and the Beast (French folk tale)
The magical wooden clogs (Japanese folk tale)
Aladdin and the magic lamp (Oriental-Chinese folk tale)
Sindbad the Sailor (Arabic-Persian folktale from 1001 Nights)
When the elephants were able to fly (Indian folk tale)
Hans and the bean tendril (England, most popular version of Joseph Jacobs)
Art fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is still the best-known writer in Denmark. He became famous for his many imaginative art fairy tales. The best-known films are probably “Arielle, the Mermaid” (1989) and “The Frozen – Totally Unspirited” (2013) by Disney. For fairy-tale lovers, there are many other fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen. The one you may know, the others will be new to you. We have listed some of his art fairy tales for you.
The ugly Duckling
The Little Mermaid – The Little Mermaid
the princess and the Pea
the snow Queen
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The galoshes of happiness
The wild swans
The fir tree
The little girl with matches
Other famous art fairy tales from all over the world
Just as there are folk tales from all over the world, there are also numerous art fairy tales from all over the world. We’ve put together the best known for you here. You may also come up with a fairytale that you have always wanted to read. Let yourself be inspired by different cultures and worldly wisdom.
Gulliver’s Travels (Ireland, Jonathan Swift)
Three hazelnuts for Cinderella (Czech Republic, Božena Němcová)
The Little Prince (France, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (England, Lewis Carroll)
Nutcracker and Mouse King (Germany, E. T. A. Hoffmann)
The lion and the mouse (Ancient Greece, Aesop)
The city mouse and the land mouse (Ancient Greece, Aesop)
How the rhinoceros got its skin (England, Rudyard Kipling)
3 tips for telling fairy tales
Here are some tips for telling fairytales, making the fairytale lesson a real experience. No matter if you read only one or several children, there are some tricks that make your story more exciting and interesting. Try it out next time and get excited. If you want to write a fairy tale yourself, you can learn creative writing here.
The right occasions for storytelling
Especially children love fairy tales in all shapes and colors. They appreciate the easily comprehensible story in combination with fantastic beings and worlds that inspire to dream. To put these dreams to sleep, fairy tales are often narrated as bedtime stories. When the children go to bed, a parent takes time to read a story.
But fairytales are not only suitable as a bedtime story. On children’s birthday parties with a fairytale theme, a parent could sit on a chair and read a fairy tale in the traditional way of children. And not only children are thrilled with fairy tales. Many adults are also always fascinated by their calming effect. They do not just put us back in our childhood, we just know what to expect, and we do not feel drastic tension or fear when looking. Fairy tale means entertainment in its gentlest form.
Effective reading: that’s how it works
When reading aloud to one or more children, you can do a bit to make them even more passionate about the story, apart from the fairy tale itself. First and foremost, the right emphasis is important. What is most important in this sentence? Do you want to highlight something dangerous, puzzling or beautiful? Read the story a few times before and practice the right emphasis to build tension.
For a really great reading experience, you’ll be captivating the child with a little bit of acting. Now and then, look for eye contact and look at it as the story expects the reader to respond. Change your voice: If, for example, a bad wolf or big bear appears in the fairy tale, you should speak darker. When a little fairy or princess speaks, you can raise your voice a bit.
Fairytales reflect: And the moral of the story …
After having read a fairy tale to his child, it is important to then talk about morality or to reflect on the events together. Has the child understood everything correctly or learned something from it, or are there still open questions? How can you apply the lesson that the story reveals to real life?
If the fairy tale was read in a round, everyone can think together. Always keep your eyes open and respond to suggestions and comments from the children. Be excited if you’ve combined something right, but just be careful when correcting something else. Explain to them with calmness and patience that your fairytale lesson is not only entertaining, but also instructive.
10 great fairy tales to read aloud
We deliberately chose fairy tales that are less brutal. Nevertheless, they are not free from violence, because that makes folk tales in particular easy. Below you will find Grimm’s folktales (“Sleeping Beauty”, “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Rumpelstiltskin”, “The Brave Little Tailor”), Art Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (“The Young Ugly Duckling”, “The Thumbelina”, “The Princess on the Pea” , “The Emperor’s New Clothes”) and Chinese folk tales, transmitted by Richard Wilhelm (“The Fox and the Raven” and “Why Dog and Cat Are Each Other’s Enemy”). We’ve briefly summarized all the stories for you so you can quickly find out if you like the story.
The texts are often in the original language, not according to the latest spelling. We also no longer use some words today. Nevertheless, the old language often makes the charm of fairy tales. When you read one of the fairy tales to a child, have them ask questions about the words and explain their meaning to them.