Once upon a time there was a type of story known as a fairytale.
But many of today’s children will never get to listen to their parents read a Hans Christian Andersen or Brothers Grimm classic.
Why? Because apparently an increasing number of mums and dads are turning away from the old favourites most of us were brought up with and are reading modern stories instead, such as The Gruffalo and The Hungry Caterpillar.
And the reason they are choosing the new over the old? Because the old tales contain themes deemed ‘unsuitable’ for children.
For example, Hansel and Gretel has a storyline about abandoned children. Now I’m pretty sure that when I was a child and read this, I wasn’t thinking about any abandoned children. I just imagined eating that house made of sweets and gingerbread.
And when we read Rapunzel to my eldest daughter, she wasn’t concerned or scared about a young girl kidnapped and locked in a tower. She was fascinated about Rapunzel’s long hair and went through a period where she didn’t want to have her own hair cut.
When my kids visit my mum’s, they wouldn’t expect to find a wolf in her bed, dressed in her favourite pyjamas, ready to pounce and eat them.
Wrapping children in cotton wool like this seems to be increasing in our so-called ‘nanny state’. It’s not helped by the ‘Mumsnet Mafia’ who seem to be having an increasing influence in how we should raise our children.
Surely those parents against the reading of the old fairytales are the same ones who happily talk about an old man with a white beard climbing down the chimney. Or let their children watch EastEnders.
Children should be encouraged to use their imagination. So what if Jack and the Beanstalk isn’t realistic?
I bet most boys who have been read that story would love to be able to climb up that massive beanstalk and defeat the giant.
The mollycoddling of children today is going too far. I say let them roll in the mud, climb a tree and above all, imagine.
And then hopefully they’ll live happily ever after.