Top Fairy Tales
Written by: Julie Henry
October 23, 2008
Filed Under Books
9. Hansel and Gretel
This classic fairy tale tells the story of a poor woodcutter and his two children. Under the guise of fear of starvation, the children’s evil stepmother convinces their father to take them into the woods and abandon them. Overhearing this plot, Hansel drops white pebbles as they walk and the children use them to find their way home. The angry stepmother tells the father to take them even deeper into the woods and caught unaware, the children only have breadcrumbs to drop which are eaten by birds. The children are hopelessly lost when they come across a house made of candy. Starving, the children begin to nibble on the delicious abode and the old woman who lives there invites them in where she traps Hansel in a cage and makes Gretel her servant. Her plan is to fatten Hansel up and then eat him and when the day comes, she tells Gretel to climb in the oven to see how hot it is. Tricky Gretel fools the woman into getting into the oven herself and Gretel closes the door, shutting her in. Taking jewels from the woman’s home, the children find their way back to their father to discover their evil stepmother has died and their father is sorry for sending them away and the three of them make a happy home together.
This famous fairy tale earns its spot amongst the top 10 fairy tales and tells the story of Cinderella who loses her father and becomes housemaid to her evil stepmother and sisters. One day, a messenger delivers an invitation to a ball at the castle and Cinderella and her mice friends make her a beautiful gown. Her jealous stepsisters rip her dress and her stepmother forbids her from going to the ball but a magical fairy godmother appears and gives Cinderella a gown, a horse a carriage and beautiful glass slippers. The catch is that the magic will end at midnight so Cinderella must be home before then. Just as she and the Prince are dancing, the clock begins to strike midnight and Cinderella flees the castle before the Prince can ask her name. On her way out, she drops one of her glass slippers and the Prince, determined to find the beauty he danced with, travels around the kingdom having all the women try on the shoe. The shoe only fits Cinderella and she and the Prince live happily ever after.
7. Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood tells the tale of a small girl whose mother packs her a basket of food and sends her on an errand to deliver it to her sick grandmother. On her way through the forest, the girl is approached by a hungry wolf. The naïve child tells the wolf where she is going and he hurries ahead to grandma’s house eats the grandmother whole and then jumps into bed with grandmother’s cap and glasses on to fool the child. After he eats her whole too, a woodsman comes to the rescue and cuts the wolf open where Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother escape unharmed. Some versions of the story have the grandmother locked in the closet instead of eaten and some have the woodsman come to the rescue before Little Red Riding Hood is eaten. Whichever version you prefer, Little Red Riding Hood earns its spot amongst the top 10 fairy tales.
6. The Ugly Duckling
This story tells the tale of a homely little duck growing up amongst the beauty of his brothers, sisters and neighbors. Everyone makes fun of the little duck because he looks different from the rest of them. Tired of the harassment, he leaves and almost dies in the harsh winter. He is rescued by a human and then released into the wild again where he comes across a pond full of geese. They accept him and he discovers he is not a duck after all but instead is a goose. He lives happily ever after.
5. Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs
One of the most famous tales of all, and high on the list of top 10 fairy tales, Snow White tells the story of a beautiful princess whose goes to live with seven dwarfs in the woods to escape her evil stepmothers’ (the Queen) plan to kill her. When the Queen learns that Snow White has escaped she concocts an evil spell to turn herself into an ugly old woman and poison an apple, which she offers to Snow White. The poison apple makes Snow White fall asleep and the only cure is “True Love’s Kiss”. The Queen falls off a cliff and a handsome prince kisses Snow White awaking her. They all live happily ever after.
4. Sleeping Beauty
This famous fairy tale tells the story of a princess who is cursed to prick her finger and die when she turns 16. A good fairy alters the witch’s spell so that the Princess will not die but instead will sleep for a hundred years. Although the King ordered every spindle in the kingdom to be burned, when she turns 16 the princess comes upon an old woman spinning in the castle (the witch) and asks to try. She pricks her finger and the entire kingdom falls asleep. After one hundred years, a handsome prince comes to the kingdom and kisses her, thus awakening the town and living happily ever after.
3. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
This classic fairy tale is known by children across the globe and earns its spot amongst the top 10 fairy tales. The story is about a girl named Goldilocks who comes upon a small cottage in the woods. She tastes three bowls of porridge before eating the one that’s just right and sits in three chairs breaking the one that fits her best. Tired, she tries three beds and falls asleep upon the one that is neither too soft nor too hard. The family of bears (Mama, Papa and Baby) come home and Baby Bear is distressed to see that his porridge has been eaten, his chair has been broken and someone is sleeping in his bed! Goldilocks awakens and frightened, hurries out of the house never to return.
This famous fairy tale tells the story of a poor miller who was so desperate to please the King told him that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The King has the daughter taken to a room full of straw and tells her to spin it all into gold before morning otherwise; she and her father will be banished from the kingdom forever. A little man comes into the room and says he will spin the straw if she gives him something. The first night she gives him her necklace and the second her ring. The pleased King gave her more straw and told her if she spun it all into gold, he would marry her. The little man returns but the girl has nothing else to give him so she promises him her first-born child. A year later, she and the King give birth to a son. The little man appears and demands the child but then, feeling pity for the mother tells her that if she could guess his name in three days she could keep her baby. Luckily, one of the Queen’s messengers spots a strange man dancing in the woods singing a song that says Rumplestiltzkin is his name. The Queen guesses correctly and the little man runs away in a fit of rage never to be seen again.
1. The Three Little Pigs
One of the most famous fairy tales, The Three Little Pigs earns its place amongst the top 10 fairy tales. It tells the story of three little pigs who decide to make themselves houses. Two are lazy and use straw and wood and the third uses brick. A hungry wolf comes along and wanting to eat the pig’s blows down the first pigs’ house of straw. The wolf says the following famous line before doing away with the pigs’ homes; I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down. The little pig runs to his brother’s house of wood where the wolf finds them and blows that house down as well. The two pigs run to the home of the third brother who took the time and effort to make his home out of sturdy bricks. The wolf tries but cannot blow the brick house down. He climbs onto the roof to try and slide down the chimney but the smart pig starts a fire in the fireplace and puts a large kettle of water on. The wolf falls into the kettle of water and the little pigs live happily ever after.