10 Cross-cultural fairy tales that your little reader would love

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Fairy tales take the kids to a parallel dimension that has magic and enchanting creatures. These stories with pleasant happy endings, create a fantastical world for your little one that he or she eventually falls in love with. As a person who has grown up reading numerous fairy tales and still enjoys an occasional night of Disney movie marathon, I can vouch for the fact that acquainting your kid with fairy tales will be the best gift you give them in their formative years.

Why cross-cultural fairy tales?

  • One of the best things about present day book publishing is that they have made available various cross-cultural versions of fairy tales now. No longer do all the mystical or magical characters that your kid likes belong to a one western locality or look like one another. These fairy tales give an opportunity to you to make your kid aware of different cultures around the globe and even become sensitive towards them.
  • From an early age, your kid can have a good understanding of the diversity present in this world and would grow up to be a more accepting and compassionate adult.
  • Familiarising your kid with cross-cultural fairytales also makes the concept beauty fluid in their minds, especially female beauty. It is wise to make them aware of and accept different kinds of beauty present in the world which is a huge reflection of cultural origins and location of origin.

10 Cross-cultural fairy tales

  • Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith –
    This story set in African Savannah with vibrant scenery is a very witty and downright cute piece of fiction that revisits the famous fairy tale, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. The protagonist of this book however, is a little black girl with cute pigtails playing the role of Little Red.
  • The Rough-Face Girl Rafe Martin, illustrated by David Shannon –
    Set within Algonquin tribe of North America, this story takes inspiration from the much celebrated tale of ‘Cinderella’. The book doesn’t focus on external magic but rather tells a tale where a girl relies on herself to reach a certain goal or maturity. This faith in oneself is no less than magic and that is what this book tries to put forth. The concept that beauty lies within oneself is also very evident in this books. It can act as a very powerful piece of writing which carries an important message and is also very enjoyable to read.
  • The Korean Cinderella by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Ruth Heller –
    Pear Blossom is a young girl who loses her mother way too soon and is eventually abused and tortured by her step-mother. Sounds familiar? Yes, the story is almost an exact replica of the Disney Cinderella that everyone knows but what makes the book special is its Korean context. The Korean retelling of the age-told tale gives an insight into the Korean culture and makes it more normalised and familiar rather than being exotic.

  • Rapunzel by Chloe Perkins, Illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan –
    This is an interesting board book which takes the tale of Rapunzel and brings it to Indian context. The Rapunzel in this fairy tale is a beautiful Indian brown girl instead of a western white one. It is a very interesting board book that an Indian kid would feel more close to or relate to.
  • Rubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya, Illustrated by Melissa Sweet –
    This Latino version of ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ is truly remarkable. It is a bilingual fairy tale with a change of story at the end from the old conventional tale. It carries the message of self-reliance and correcting one’s own mistakes that every kid should learn from the very beginning. This book comes with a Spanish to English glossary in the end.
  • Lon Po Po by Ed Young –
    This again is a retelling of the widely known story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’. It is a Chinese version with Young’s own artwork that is equally enticing. It shows a street-smart protagonist who can find her own way through adversities. It is a little darker than the original fairytale but definitely a good read for children.
  • The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece by Anthony Manna and Christodoula Mitakidou, illustrated by Giselle Potter –
    The fairytale of Cinderella which is known to almost all the kids throughout the globe is taken to a Greek context in this books. The beautiful landscape of Greece depicted in water colours and catchy rhymes that are scattered throughout the piece make it a very interesting and engaging read.
  • Brother of the Knight by Debbie Allen, illustrated by Kadir Nelson –
    A fairy tale challenging gender stereotypes is rare and this book does exactly that. It revisits the story of ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’ where an African American priest is puzzled by the worn out shoes of his twelve sons every morning. This book is set in Harlem, United States of America.
  • Hansel and Gretel by Rachel Isadora –
    This is a simple retelling of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. It just shifts its setting to the jungles of Africa.

  • La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal –
    This is a visually pleasing book, the illustrations of which are inspired by the cultural setting of Peru. It’s a remarkable retelling of the famous classical fairy tale of ‘The Princess and the Pea.’

So grab a copy for your kids and open new dimensions for them!