I have always loved to read and have always had an active imagination; my husband says it is over-active. Those facts made me an excellent candidate for fairy tale infatuation.
As a little girl, I loved when my mother read to me. I learned to read at an early age and read tales again and again until I knew them all by heart.
I also loved acting them out using various voices and accents. Fairy tales sound so much more appealing with a British accent. Of course this was back when children were not so "plugged in," and had to find ways to entertain themselves.
Because my mother saves everything, I was able to read our four children the very same books I grew up reading. All of that to say, our children grew up with the real fairy tale versions, and not the current candy-coated ones. I found out about the "milder" versions when we made trips to the library, where I would read some of their favorite tales by modern day authors instead of the more antique storytellers.
For example, I remember reading the "Three Little Pigs" to our children from a library book. In this version, the first two "lazy" pigs didn’t get eaten by the wolf—the horror! Instead, they ran to the third pig’s house and after the wolf jumped down the chimney into the pot of boiling water, they danced a jig and sang while their pot of wolf soup simmered.
I guess nobody minded about the wolf being killed, but not the cute little pigs.
I remember when I was a child, my mother explained that the first two pigs got eaten because they hadn’t taken the time to build a solid and sturdy house. The story even pointed out their laziness. That’s a pretty good life lesson, don’t you think? I guess this generation learned that you can always run to another house and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors.
Another tale that has been swindled over the years is that of "Little Red Riding Hood," or as it was originally titled, "Little Red-Cap."
In the old version, Little Red didn’t listen to her mother about going straight to grandma’s, so she ended up meeting the crafty wolf who didn’t have her best interest at heart. In this version, the wolf first deceives grandmother and then "devours" poor granny.
In addition, after the "what big teeth you have," phrase, the wolf jumped out of bed and also ate the little girl. In the original version, a hunter passes by and decides to check on grandma. He almost kills the wolf, but decides to first cut him open to see if grandma is alive. Luckily, Red and grandma pop out of the wolf’s stomach unharmed. Hurray for hunters.
My mother used this tale to explain numerous consequences of our actions to me when I was a little girl. In the more modern version, nobody gets eaten, and hunters aren’t even mentioned. The modern way of thinking apparently is that the old version has too much violence for children, and besides, hunters kill animals and own guns.
I find it astounding the same society that is afraid fairy tales have a violent message for young children ignores other issues. For instance, pop stars Lady Gaga and Rihanna, both talented young women, perform their acts looking more like strippers than musicians.
I think parents need to worry more about what their children are watching rather than what they are reading in an old Grimm Brothers fairy tale book.
Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.