Sunday, March 26, 2023

What are the favourite ‘fairy’ stories?

I'm grateful to 'Flash Academy' for surveying children's favourite stories around the world. The most popular stories were mostly written in English, which reflects the dominance of children's book publishing in English as a universal language. Thanks to Book Riot for also sharing the 'Flash Academy' review online.


You might be surprised by the most popular story in your own country. For example, in my country (Australia), it was 'Puss in Boots'.


Some of the most popular stories included 'Jack and the Beanstalk', 'Thumbelina', 'Red Riding Hood', 'Puss in Boots', and 'Hansel and Gretel'. And many of the favourites were written in the 17th and 18th centuries.


There were some variations by the language used in nations, but not many as children's books are more widely published in English. But a couple of stories did seem to have favourites in specific regions of the world reflecting their own culture and traditions. For example, Middle Eastern and North African nations like Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Cuba Jordan all had 'Aladdin' in first place! This wasn't the case in most of the other nations.


You might like to do your own survey by class or school to see what children under the age of 7 years indicate as their favourite. This would be a fun and useful activity for any classroom teacher or librarian (school or public). Of course, I'm sure that if you survey children their choices might well be books that they've read recently.


It is also interesting to ponder which stories written in the last 50 years in our own countries, might just make such a list in 100 years. I suspect that a small number will. For example, I think that Australian and English classics of the last 20-40 years that might make such a list are 'Possum Magic' (Mem Fox), 'Where's Julias' (John Burningham), 'Cowardly Clyde' (Bill Peet), 'The Nativity' by Julie Vivas, and 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit' (Beatrix Potter). There are many wonderful books loved by children, but will their children and grandchildren also know of them and love them? Such classic children’s books survive long term because children find deep meaning and connection to their lives in any age.



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