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Parents Say Classic Fairy Tales Are Too Scary To Read To Kids (STUDY)

Fairy Tales Kids

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/21/2012 1:17 pm Updated: 02/21/2012 1:17 pm

It's no secret that classic fairy tales aren't the bright and happy stories Disney would have you believe. (The way the Brothers Grimm tell Cinderella, one of her stepsisters resorts to cutting off her own toe to fit into Ella's dainty glass slippers.) Now, rather than skipping over the bleaker elements at bedtime -- or just hoping kids can handle rather dark ideas -- parents are chucking fairy tales altogether, says a new study conducted by British TV channel, Watch.

The Daily Mail reports that some of the books most commonly left on the shelves include Rumpelstiltskin and Rapunzel because kidnapping is the centerpiece of their storylines. And, Little Red Riding Hood -- that Big Bad Wolf is too gruesome when he gobbles up Red's grandma. A staggering one-third of parents reported that their children were actually brought to tears by the scene.

This year's rash of television series and movies riffing on fairy tales further supports them being more grown-up than kid-friendly. The police procedural drama "Grimm," which premiered this season on NBC, centers each of its eerie episodes on a different Brothers Grimm story, and last year's PG-13 "Red Riding Hood" brought a similarly dark tone to the big screen. This spring's "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Mirror, Mirror," also seem to be geared toward more adult audiences.

"There has been a move toward seeing fairy tales as an adult, or at any rate, a young adult dark sort of genre," children's author Diane Purkiss told the BBC. "In the past, fairy tales were told by adults to adults, in William Shakespeare's time. It's only in the Victorian era that they've become moral children's tales and it looks like we're going back to the inception of fairy stories now with a more adult take on them."

Yet, as The Telegraph reported, parents aren't turning down fairy tales just because they're "scary." Over 50 percent of parents surveyed said that they didn't read their kids Cinderella because the heroine spends her days doing housework. Many felt that this theme of female domesticity didn't send a good message. HuffPost blogger Amy Fox recently wrote about a Cinderella book that she wishes didn't exist at all.

Other parents felt that many fairy tales simply brought up questions that they weren't prepared to answer. Steve Hornsey, General Manager of Watch told The Telegraph: "As adults we can see the innocence in fairytales, but a five year old with an overactive imagination could take things too literally."

So how do you feel about classic fairy tales? Which stories do you feel comfortable reading to your kids -- and which would you rather they didn't hear until they were older? Tell us in the comments!

LOOK: 10 Fairy Tales Parents Aren't Reading To Kids

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Child-eating witch? Check. Parents abandoning children? Check. Parents not wanting to read it to their kids at night? Check.
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