Classic Fairy Tales for Toddlers – Then and now

Classic Fairy Tales for Toddlers – Then and now

I think classic fairy stories are such lovely stories to share with toddlers. They are classics because they’ve been passed down generation to generation. I remember the bookcase full of Ladybird books that I worked through with my Dad each evening. There were a couple that were permanent favourites amongst them, and these included Red Riding Hood, Gingerbread Boy, The Goat and the Seven Kids, Five Little Kittens and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

A while ago my parents started to clear their loft and brought the books round for me to share with the children. Daniel and I have read a few of these at bedtime and I remember being surprised at just how different the stories are to their modern day equivalents.

The Gingerbread boy of my childhood is similar in many ways to the Gingerbread man story I have been reading to Daniel and Emma (from the Flip up Fairy Tales series by Child’s Play).

The Gingerbread Boy childs play

The most noticeable difference is the ending. In the Ladybird book the Gingerbread man talks as he is being eaten by the fox (I’m a quarter gone, I’m half gone etc). He doesn’t in the newer version (although he is eaten by the fox!). The illustrations as you can see from the cover are also very different. The Child’s Play version appeals to E much more than the Classic Ladybird version (D likes them both)

gingerbread boy ladybird

The most noticeable difference is in the story of The Goat and the Seven Kids. If you’re not familiar with the story, the wolf tricks the kids into opening the door and he gobbles them up. The Mother goat finds out and discover the wolf with a belly full of kids snoozing. She cuts him open to rescue the kids and they then fill his tummy up with rocks before stitching him back up again. The wolf ends up falling into a well with a ‘frightful plop’.

Wolf and the seven kids

In the newer version the wolf doesn’t eat the kids; instead he bundles them into a suitcase. The suitcase is them filled with rocks. The Wolf falls into the river and is never seen again. Interestingly in the Ladybird version the Goat is female and the wolf male, and it is the other way around in the Child’s Play version.

The wolf and the seven kids1

I think it’s lovely to be able to look back on the versions of these stories that I read and be able to share them in different formats with my own children.

D and E are certainly enjoying the flip up fairy tales versions – as the name suggests there are flaps to lift etc to help to bring the story to life. E is particular has enjoyed these as she finds the picture style really engaging and likes lifting the flaps to reveal what’s underneath. She’s taken these from the shelf a few times to look at herself.

D enjoys both versions of these books – he is really engaged in the pictures in both styles and I can’t wait until he is old enough to look at the differences and the underlying social reasons for the changes in the retelling of the stories.

The vine below shows the two Gingerbread boy books and how they differ across the two versions.



What are your favourite classic fairy tales for toddlers?

the way we tell fairy tales has changed so much - a look at how these classic stories have changed




  1. 24th August 2015 / 08:23

    do you know I’ve not read newer versions so I didn’t know there was a difference. My girls love Billy Goats Gruff 🙂 thanks for sharing with #readwithme x

  2. 17th October 2015 / 15:45

    I’d never thought about the difference in stories! Although my Mum watched Topsy and Tim with us the other day and said it not how she would have imagined them having been brought up reading the books at school! Thanks for haring on #ToddlerApprovedTuesday

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