Do you read fairy tales? Or maybe you read them ‘once upon a time’? What about looking for and/or finding magic in life as we live it every day? Hans Christian Andersen said that “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale.“ And I do believe in that. This of course does not mean that life is all wonderful and a happy ever after. Instead to paraphrase Neil Gaiman, life does have its dragons, and we do have the power to overcome them.
‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’ – Neil Gaiman
February 26th happens to be another of those wonderful quirky celebrations that need to be celebrated everyday. Among other things, it is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.
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Fairy Tales, and Other Tales
What is the Definition of a Fairy Tale?
While I did mention that Hans Christian Andersen refers to life itself as the most wonderful of fairy tales, what exactly is a fairy tale? There is no such exact definition, and the lines between folk tales, fairy tales, and other similar stories often blur. More on that later.
Using various definitions across the internet, here is what I arrived at:
A fairy tale is a wondrous tale most often involving magical creatures like fairies and witches, dwarves and giants, as well as other marvelous and imaginary elements and events.
The fairy tale, while not originally intended for children, has in recent times, seen a gentler milder version appear to make it suitable for younger audiences. While some of the really dark (original) versions of fairy tales like Red Riding Hood and Cinderella do make me feel a lightening of the mood is needed, the ‘how much’ is also something I often think about. Should the end result be squeaky clean and all sweet and good? Or should there be a hint of darkness (or more)?
For, using Gaiman’s words here again, “If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”
And How is it Different from Other Stories?
Then what are fables? Or folk tales? And what about myths and legends?
The word fable immediately brings to mind Aesop’s Fables. And that helps us better understand what fables are. And you should check out this beautiful biography of Aesop I reviewed earlier here.
Myths often try to explain the unexplainable. For example, the creation myth, or the great flood. The great flood is one that we hear across cultures; with Noah’s Ark in the Bible, and with the story of Manu (the first man) surviving the great flood in Indian mythology. You can check more great flood myths across cultures here.
Legends are purportedly true but without enough supporting evidence. For instance, the legend of Robin Hood. Tall tales can go into this category or into folk tales, depending on the tale itself. Like that of Paul Bunyan.
Folktales were an oral tradition, narrating stories with moral that originated in popular culture. I grew up on a steady diet of folk tales from India (like the Panchatantra and Jataka Tales) as well as from around the world.
Finding Magic & Fairy Tales in Life
I recently read this delightful NY Times article titled In a Pandemic Fairy Tale, a Garden Leads to a Magical Friendship. It is the perfect example of bringing truth to Andersen’s words above. Do read the article in its entirety. But in essence, it talks about a four year old’s mission to bring magic to others through a fanciful fairy garden that led to something more magical.
And that led me to this other NYTimes article that has lessons and activities for parents and educators, based on the magical pandemic garden.
Ways to Celebrate Fairy Tale Day
Read Fairy Tales and Such
Well, of course, I had to talk about reading specifically!
The title links point to my original post about the book, unless stated otherwise.
- The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales (4 – 7 years)
- Help Wanted, Must Love Books (4 – 7 years)
- The Restless Girls
- The Very Fairy Princess by Julie Andrews ( 4 – 8 years)
- The Wish Carvers (5 – 9 years)
- Harper and the Night Forest (6 – 9 years)
- Eric Carle Treasury of Classic Stories for Children (I read this a while ago, and like with other Carle books, loved it)
Check out my BookShop page if you want to look for these and other similar purchases (the books on my Bookshop list are those I have read or own or have gifted, or all of the above!)
More Fairy Tales Reading
- This link (Pitt.edu) has tons of reading materials and resources
- My post last year about this date: The Magic of Fairy Tales: Tell One Today
- This list of modern fairy tales from Reedsy (just sharing this as I loved the list!)
Additional Reads and etcs
- Fierce Girls’ Fairy Tales – With titles like Interstellar Cinderella and Reading Beauty, these are a cool twist indeed
- If popup books are something you love, then you will adore Robert Sabuda’s fairy tale popups..
Watch Something, Well, Fairy Tales -ish
Watch a old favorite or a more modern retelling or well, so many other delightful options.
- The Disney versions of course (Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Tangled, to name a few)
- More movies (including Enchanted for one)
- Outtathebooks has really delightful videos you can watch. From the website’s About Us – “an innovative multi-platform family entertainment project created by Brian Banks and produced by StorySongs Productions. “
- Build a castle with cardboard (cereal boxes and such)
- Draw a Fairy Tale Map at Education.com
- ThoughtCo has fun Fairy Tales and Fables Printables
- Kids will love making everything from fairy beds to a “fairy dust” necklace with this colorful fairy kit from Uncommon Goods(one of my favorite places to find, well uncommon goods!)
- Make your little one the center of a fairy tale in this personalized book from UncommonGoods
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, so what about you? Where have you found magic recently? Or come upon life’s fairy tale moments – be it finding a wish-granting fairy (maybe you were her/him yourself!) or slaying a dragon? Or any one of so many possible moments?
And have you read any of the books mentioned here? Which of the movies are among your favorites? As always, your comments and recommendations are always welcome!