Continuing our fairytales campaign!
Tiny Owl have published, and continue to publish, many fairytale and folk tale retellings from around the world in our One Story, Many Voices series. We think fairytales and folk tales should be preserved as they help to convey important messages for children, but only if they’re in keeping with modern values. (We’ve previously discussed this issue in our blog ‘Are fairytales still relevant today?‘) That’s why we’re launching a campaign to promote the importance of reading traditional stories from different cultures, and to consider ways that we can update them for contemporary readers. We’re interviewing experts to hear their views!
We started with a brilliant interview with author Elizabeth Laird. Next we spoke to another wonderful children’s author, Pippa Goodhart!
What was your favourite fairytale or folk tale as a child?
It was The Ugly Duckling. The thought of being rejected by your mother who loved your siblings better was so relatable for a child. I certainly wasn’t treated badly by my own lovely mum and dad, but I did think that my brother and sister were cleverer and more attractive than I was.
Why do you think it’s important for children to read fairytales?
Fairytales are fantastical and clearly not ‘real’ life. That means they can be scary and funny, all without traumatising us as much as if they dealt with betrayal and jealousy and hope and love in realistic ways. When we all know stories such as Cinderella, that common cultural reference point lets us sometimes use those stories as ways of expressing our own feelings to others.
How can we update fairytales to fit with modern values?
Easily! Just by thinking a bit more deeply about them. Every generation and culture and individual is entitled to retell these tales to make them feel right to their values. That’s always been true. So, for example, when reworking Sleeping Beauty I had some sympathy with the fairy who had been the only one not invited to the Christening party. When reworking The Frog Prince, I had the kiss with the princess leading to friendship rather than sexual love because my prince and princess are children. When reworking Puss In Boots I have the princess deciding to propose to Jack, rather than her father giving her to Jack. But the emotional core of each story stays the same.