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Censoring scary fairy tales?

(25 Posts)
Servalan Fri 30-Oct-09 21:25:39

DD (aged 3) was recently given a box of fairy tale books. Tonight, she was choosing her bedtime story and decided she wanted Hansel and Gretel.

I had forgotten how horrid the story is - what with children being abandoned by their parents in the forest, a witch imprisoning Hansel so she can fatten him up and eat him, the witch herself getting pushed in the oven at the end...

I tried to gloss over the scary bits as much as possible, but it got me thinking. I guess I must have been told this story in my early childhood. Is 3 too young for the themes in this story? At what age would you introduce stories like this?

DD is very taken by the house made out of sweets so I think will request it again, just not sure how much I need to "censor" it!

chachachachacha Fri 30-Oct-09 21:31:19

dd read these from about the age of three and loved them - we have the old original ladybird ones from my childhood so no glossing over cold hard facts of the stories. I think what adults view as scary is different to childrens'.

What is good about teh fairytales is that the baddy always gets it in the end so that see that good triumphs over evil... or whatever!

DD did get rather confused at a toddler group one time when they were telling the story of teh three little pigs and they told a rather sanitised version where none of the pigs got eaten shock

giddykipper Fri 30-Oct-09 21:34:02

They are cautionary tales, so they are meant to be a bit scary. They lose their point if you censor them.

<wishes DS would want to read something other than Thomas and Friends>

teameric Fri 30-Oct-09 21:36:29

I used to love the gory versions of fairy tales when I was little and always knew when my Mum was missing the good bits out grin.
I think kids are more hardcore than we realise.

Servalan Fri 30-Oct-09 21:58:02


I thought I was possibly being a bit namby-pamby. She's only just 3, so still seems so little Especially since she's terrified by silly things like hand driers and the skulls they have in Clinton cards at the moment...

I did put the bit about the witch wanting to eat Hansel, but made a big thing of the fact he escaped. The bit that I was most worried about reading her was the stuff about being abandoned in the woods by parents.

I'm not a great fan of censorship, and I fully intend to read her fairy tales, just a little unsure of whether 3 was a tiny bit too young!

teameric Fri 30-Oct-09 22:05:14

well I can see where your coming from there as I have a 3 year old DD too and she sounds like yours so maybe she is a little too young at the mo smile

MrsBadger Fri 30-Oct-09 22:08:34

Grimm fairytales are often just that

dd is 2.3 and in general we are sticking to Kipper

(none of our three little pigs get eaten either - I tend to have them all go to live with Larry the third pig in the brick house and DH has them all building their own brick houses)

Georgimama Fri 30-Oct-09 22:09:55

The "original" versions (ie Brothers Grimm) we are thinking of are already sanitised.

I heard a very interesting piece on radio 4 about children not finding fairy tales frightening because they have a very black/white sense of right and wrong - for example Snow White's stepmother being forced into a pair of red hot shoes and made to dance herself to death. Adults think that sounds horrific, children think that's pretty fair for what she tried to do to Snow White, was the ghist of it.

hannahsaunt Fri 30-Oct-09 22:10:16

Stories are all to do with imagination - she's not watching something happening in front of her, possibly as a surprise e.g. a handdrier suddenly starting. Stories are all about being scared safely, in a safe environment and the thrill is all part of it - it's how she learns to manage fear in a good way. Don't censor the stories.

PS I heard a snippet the other day about the Grimm tales and how they were sanitised already e.g. in having a wicked stepmother - the originals had the birth mother doing all the nasty stuff and it was deemed too scary (this was many moons ago)

CristinaTheAstonishing Fri 30-Oct-09 22:11:32

I read some Grimm fairytales recently to my 4.5 year old DD. She was fascinated. I think I was more disturbed than she was as she was quite unaware of any serious and definitive implications of the head-choppings etc.

pipWereRabbit Fri 30-Oct-09 22:12:39

Try reading 'Not in front of the grown-ups' by Alison Lurie. She discusses all sorts of childrens stories and explains why children get so much out of subversive literature.

Made lots of sense to me.

TeamEdward Fri 30-Oct-09 22:12:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TeamEdward Fri 30-Oct-09 22:14:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

teameric Fri 30-Oct-09 22:38:26

shit, why didn't I think of that for my wedding! would have been better than the crap DJ we had grin

Servalan Fri 30-Oct-09 22:41:17

The Alison Lurie book looks really interesting. I may well try and get hold of a copy. Thanks

itchyandscratchy Fri 30-Oct-09 22:46:03

I get more wound up by the highly dubious morals shown by scallies like Jack and the Beanstalk: boy acts like a irresponsible cock with the family's only means of income; repeatedly robs a stranger then causes stranger's death when he tries to retrieve his stolen goods! and then boy and his mum live off the proceeds of their ill-gotten gains. nice! hmm

and don't get me started on Rumplestiltskin...

am afraid am all for censoring. dont want them screaming in their sleep.

but i will check out that alison lurie book.

CristinaTheAstonishing Fri 30-Oct-09 22:48:21

itchyandscratchy - you sound like my DH discussing the "moral" of the story in Joseph of the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

TheFallenMadonna Fri 30-Oct-09 22:52:02

I read the Ladybird Rumpelstiltskin to DD at the weekend (PIL have a great stash of Well-loved Tales), and it was pretty shock.

The greedy king says spin all this straw into gold before morning or I'll kill you. And then she marries him. And they live happily ever after?

DD loved it though.

foxytocin Fri 30-Oct-09 22:53:53

Hansel and Gretel as op says. i refuse to read it. dd loves it. she sees Gretel as a heroine i believe. I find it scary, disturbing and malevolent. Hated it even as a child. DD asks why and i tell her it makes me sad, which it does. The thought of hungry children that are taken to the forest to get lost rather than be killed. What awful choices.

MedusaHead Fri 30-Oct-09 22:55:50

'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

My DD has loved the ladybird fairy tale books from 3. These include Hansel and Gretel which is the most disturbing.

TeamEdward Sat 31-Oct-09 00:58:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SolidGhoulBrass Sat 31-Oct-09 01:33:58

The entire history of folklore and entertainment is about being scared in a safe way (the bad shit is happening to someone else who is not actually undergoing it in front of you) and it's usually about reinforcing the morals of the time (women: be passive and pretty and you'll win in the end, for example). I'd say for young DC anything which has a restoring-the-Appolonian-balance ending (the heros and heroines live happily ever after, the baddies meet a grisly end) is OK, major moral ambivalence is perhaps best saved for later.

Poohbearsmom Sat 31-Oct-09 01:55:15

I censor because my 3 yr old really gets me to exp every single detail... But y wud someone do that... But y... But y... hmm how do u exp the seasoning behind some of the madness!! And chacha hav to admit im a bit shocked i never realised any of the other pigs did get eaten, we were always told they ran to their brothers hse b4 the big bad wolf could get them and thats honestly the only version iv ever know!! shock

MavisEnderby Sat 31-Oct-09 02:05:51

I think all the best childrens stories have some gruesome bits,but with as SGB says "The restoring the balance ending" which is why Roald Dahl is so fantastic and popular.

Life isn't always kind and gentle.I think it is a misnomer and is insulting to children to pretend it is.

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