First Fairy Tales: Kate Hancock looks at some younger versions of our favourite tales

Fairy Tales are some of the most enduring and best-loved stories and can often be our first experience of storytelling and the power of the narrative. Amazingly, different cultures often have versions of the same fairy tales and myths and these frequently have a strong moral message at their heart. Although many popular versions of fairy stories can seem simple with clearly identifiable good and bad characters, other interpretations can be dark, ambiguous and sometimes a little frightening.

There are a great number of fairy tale books available that are suitable for early years with a huge variety of familiar and less well known traditional tales covered.

Fairy Tales lend themselves to a wide range of activities and these familiar stories can be a great starting point for creative arts, role play, small world play and even simple physics and maths concepts.  Here are some of the best fairy tale books with ideas on how to get the most out of these fantastic and versatile titles.

Little Red by Bethan Wollvin (Two Hoots) 

A (slightly dark) striking new twist on Little Red Riding Hood with vibrant illustrations. This version sees a clever, defiant Little Red Riding Hood take control of the story and deal with the big bad wolf herself. This new interpretation of a familiar tale can open up lots of discussion about how other well-known fairy stories could be looked at differently and the wonderful, simple illustrations can inspire similar artwork using limited colour.

To read our recent interview with Bethan Wollvin click here.

For a comparison of different versions of Little Red Riding Hood click here.

Beauty and the Beast by Michael Morpurgo and Loretta Schauer (HarperCollins)  

A lovely version of a popular tale written by one of our greatest story tellers and with fresh, vibrant illustrations. This is a perfect way to introduce children to Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful writing. This version of Beauty and the Beast was written following a poll to discover the nation’s favourite fairy story, an exercise which could be repeated to find your class, nursery or school’s favourite.

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas & Helen Oxenbury (Egmont) 

A very funny subversion of the well-known story of the three little pigs. This is a great one to read aloud and a delightful twist on one of the most popular and well-known fairy stories. This story allows for lots of discussion on possible building materials for different houses and the possibility of fun building games. For another great alternative to The Three Little Pigs try The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith which explores the story from the wolf’s viewpoint.

The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child & Polly Borland (Penguin)

A visually stunning version of the much-loved tale of a princess, a pea, a prince and politeness! Combining photography with Lauren Child’s familiar illustrations this book is a great one to use as inspiration for fairy-tale based collages. Lots of fun can be had exploring how many layers of different material it takes until you can’t feel a small object.

Jack and the Beanstalk by Ed Bryan (Nosy Crow) 

Lovely traditional version of the popular fairy tale with great, accessible illustrations. Jack and the Beanstalk is a wonderful story for looking at how plants grow (and trying it out with some real bean plants), as well as the chance to make some colourful magic beans of your own. This is part of a series of first fairy tales from publisher Nosy Crow which have some fantastic apps to accompany and support them.

Which are your favourites and how have you used them in the classroom at EYFS and KS1? Let us know!

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