Sunday, May 11


What is difference between a children's book and children's literature?  In a word—QUALITY.  High quality children’s literature contain universal learning themes about childhood:

·         Love and Friendship – Charlotte’s Webb

·         Growing up – Winnie the Pooh

·         The long hard journey – The Little Engine that Could

·         The great battle or  good against evil - Harry Potter
·         Honesty and deception – Pinocchio
·         Family – Little House on the Prairie
·         Cleverness  of the small – The Lion and the Mouse or The Gruffalo
·         Play – Treasure Seekers

Oral stories have been handed down through generations and with every telling a story can change depending upon the storyteller; however, there are common elements in children's literature and particularly with fairy tales that make them distinct reading experiences for children. 


·         Begin  with 'Once upon a time . . .' type openings

·         Have fantasy, enchantment, or make believe elements

·         Involve royalty

·         Include a kind character who is often treated badly but is rewarded for their kindness and goodness in the end

·         Have a wicked or mean character who is punished, often in death in the end

·         Has a ‘happily ever after’ ending

Fairytales are important timeless stories that teach children specific moral or behaviour lessons about life.  They are enriched teaching tools because children have to pay full attention to the story's details, actively use story prediction and problem solving skills to extract the moral lesson from the story.  Everyone can get a different moral lesson from a fairytale, and often the tale can include more than one lesson throughout the story, so retelling the story is important because as children grow they learn different lessons and take different things away from the original tale.


         The Little Mermaid – do not sacrifice yourself for someone else.

         Beauty and the Beast – beauty is found on the inside, not on the outside.

         Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Jealousy and vanity are bad

         Jack and the Beanstalk – stay true to your course, don't let your eyes become bigger than you wallet.

         Goldilocks and the Three Bears – respect the privacy and property of others.

         Cinderella – Treat people as you want to be treated.  Rich or poor all people should be treated with respect and dignity.


Fairytales are cross-cultural.  The same stories are told throughout the ages in various countries and cultures around the world.  For example, several cultures have a Cinderella story.

 The Rough-Faced Girl The Golden Sandal
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

Parents and teachers should always include fairytales in their reading list to children.  They are special stories that children's love and include so many timeless childhood lessons.

Adapted from:  Children's Literature.  ENL1904.  Algonquin College.  Tricia Kassotis and Lana Lash.  2012.