Once Upon a Fairy Tale: An Overview of Traditional & Alternative Fairy Tales

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Rajmoolie, Vidya Natasha
Fairy Tales , Curriculum Unit , Children's Literature , Female Stereotypes
“Fairy tales and fantasy do help to shape great minds. Einstein was an avid reader of fairy tales” (Polette, 2005, p.1). Children’s literature contains many genres, one of the most popular being fairy tale stories. After all, a child’s first exposure to literature is usually a fairy tale written by either the Brothers Grimm or Perrault (Kuykendal & Stern, 2007). Fairy tales have continued to delight children, young and old, for centuries and play an important role in a child’s view of society because of what they read in fairy tale literature. Fairy tales are one of the most interesting genres of literature and should be a bigger part of the elementary school curriculum as these are stories that children have grown up with their whole lives. By reading these stories and exploring them further in education, students will have a better understanding of the fairy tale and what it represents. When exploring new genres of literature, we tend to look for black and white when in reality; fairy tales provide many different shades of gray (Charles, 2009). Fairy tales, both traditional and alternative versions, will be compared and contrasted to discover what meanings their themes have, what views of male and female characters are presented and how much fantasy and reality exist within these stories. The traditional fairy tale stories of the Brothers Grimm titled Snow White and The Sleeping Beauty will be used to compare with and contrast against the alternative fairy tale stories titled Snow White in New York, Sleeping Ugly and The Paper Bag Princess. Further exploring these two genres of fairy tales is a curriculum unit designed for the Ontario Curriculum’s Grade Five Language Arts Reading component. Through this unit, students will learn about these types of stories and how their own views on characters, gender roles, fantasy and reality in fairy tales contribute to society, whether positively or negatively.
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