Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#Family – My Mother’s Fairy Tales by Jennie Fitzkee

This is the second post from the archives of Jennie Fitzkee, who with a career as a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, has some inspiring posts that reinforce that the ability to read and books are two of the best gifts we can give our children. On her blog she also shares wonderful posts about her family and will be sharing four of those with us in the coming weeks.

My Mother’s Fairy Tales by Jennie Fitzkee

My mother gave me her childhood book of fairy tales when my children were young. This wasn’t a book she had ever shown me, or my brother and sisters. I think it was my teaching and my newfound love of children’s literature that prompted her to give me the book.

I was thrilled and excited. I read many of the fairy tales, especially the ones I knew. I remember calling Mother and the conversation we had on the phone. It went something like this:

Me: “Mother, these fairy tales are terrible.”

Mother: “What do you mean?”

Me: “They’re violent.”

The silence was deafening. I could see the stiffening and the tension, and I wasn’t even there. I could see the eyes tightening and the chin rising, even though I wasn’t there.

My mother was a no-nonsense, tough woman. She always idolized her grandfather who was a coal miner from Wales. He came to America, made a fortune in mining in Pennsylvania, lost everything in the depression, and then built his fortune once again. It wasn’t the money, it was the grit her grandfather had that my mother admired.

Mother’s father, her beloved grandfather’s only son, was killed in a mining accident when he was in his 30’s. Mother’s mother (Lulu to me) practically fell apart and spent a year in Paris with her children to recover. That year, 1928, they lived in the same apartment building as the famous singer Maurice Chevalier, who often sang to my mother. She was eight years old.

A fortune was spent in only a year. My mother watched her mother in weakness. After that, my mother became a very strong woman. When my father, her husband, died as a young man, my mother was able to manage her four children with a positive presence and a stiff upper lip.

And that is why she bristled when I told her that her Grimm’s Fairy Tales were violent.

Cinderella. Well, in the original Grimm’s story, there is no Fairy Godmother. Instead there is a weeping willow tree by her mother’s grave, and birds. The birds get her the dress for the ball…which lasts for three days. They also pick out the lentils from the ashes for Cinderella so she can go to the ball.

The glass slipper. OMG. The evil stepmother tells the first daughter to chop off her toe, and the second daughter to cut off her heel in order to make the glass slipper fit. Of course the blood sends the Prince back to the house each time. When the Prince and Cinderella marry, the birds peck out the stepsisters’ eyeballs. Really.

Do you recognize many of these titles? “Little Red Cap” is the original “Little Red Riding Hood.” It has two different endings. I read this to the children at school last week.

Popular fairy tales are popular to their readers. In the days of the Brothers Grimm, children died, life was hard, disease and terrible working conditions were common. Hot water and a big meal was a luxury. Therefore, those stories were not scary or violent to their readers. Even into the early 1900’s.

Today, people think Disney movie adaptations are violent. If my children called me to tell me how violent Disney movies were, I would have been just like my mother; shocked and defensive, and bristling. Shielding children from what happens in life is not the way to go. Storytelling and books and fairy tales are a good thing.

I’m my mother’s daughter.

©Jennie Fitzkee

About Jennie Fitzkee

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about.

I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

Connect to Jennie


My thanks to Jennie for sharing this post from her archives… I remember reading the Little Match Girl and weeping buckets aged 7 … those fairy tales are not all Happy Ever After…..

What was the fairy story that you remember most?

If you would like to share your stories about family, including our fur babies.. then please take a look at the details.

Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about family.

  1. Personal memories of childhood or teens that are still fresh in your mind.
  2. Family history, stories of your parents, grandparents and further back if you can.
  3. Fur family past and present.
  4. Favourite recipes.
  5. Memorable holidays.
  6. Places you have lived.
  7. Memorable homes you have lived in.
  8. Grandchildren tales.
  9. Any family related post – education, health, teen years, elderly care, lifestyle.
  10. Please remember that there are some younger readers who visit.

I think you get the idea.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog from the day you started up to December 2018, and you simply send the link to those blogs to

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 700 posts from 200 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.

The only issue is the number of photographs and if there are more than five photographs in the post I will do a reblog rather than a separate post. (Media space)

Previous participants are more than welcome

If you are an author who would like to share book reviews and interviews on Facebook then please click on the Literary Diva’s Library image

49 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#Family – My Mother’s Fairy Tales by Jennie Fitzkee

  1. I must admit, Jennie, that I love the Brother Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, whose tales are also rather violent, think of the one about the stork that delivers the dead baby. I read Struwwelpieter to my son when he was young and my MIL was horrified. Didn’t stop me though.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Do you read Jack and the Bean Stalk to children? I always skip those parts where Jack runs off with the sack of gold or the harp. I wouldn’t glorify stealing even if it is from the castle of an imaginary Giant!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I do read Jack and the Beanstalk! The children like it so much that we often do a play performance. When Jack’s mother calls him a stupid boy… oh, my! We stop and talk quite a lot. For some reason children don’t relate Jack taking the giant’s things as stealing. Interesting! Thank you, Balroop.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks to Jennie for not bowing to suffocating political correctness. You can count on her for good commonsense teaching. I had an almost identical book as a child, and loved the stories. I never cut off anyone’s toe, or cooked children in an oven. What’s next? Greek mythology perhaps? We can’t have anyone reading about Cyclops having his eye put out, can we? 🙂
    Thanks as always, Sally.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Reading the above, brought back my own reading matter in the 1930s/40s. Being an avid reader from aged seven, and evacuated, with only gaslight downstairs and candlelight upstairs,I read the Brothers Grimm stories as well as Hans Christian Anderson tales and was enthralled (and at times frightened) by many, and had the odd nightmare. But I still went on reading them. …The worst ones told of children-catchers, who hunted children to cook and eat and an evil being who cut out children’s tongues (he may have been a goblin?) But, I seem to have grown up to be a reasonably normal individual!! Taste and ‘suitable’ reading matter for children has certainly changed over the years, but video games couldn’t be more violent and blood.thirsty if they tried!! Thank you both for the article.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Joy. I love your comments. I can see you reading by gaslight downstairs. Fairy tales may be gruesome, but there is an underlying message. So, there has to be evil before good can be understood – or something like that. And fairy tales are meant to be read, not seen. In that way, the ‘pictures’ are in the mind of the reader, and every reader sees it differently. That is powerful. Unfortunately video games have brought a violence that never has a chance of being right or wrong. I would take a Brothers Grimm story over any video game in a heartbeat.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, there will be a time. And when you read aloud those stories to your grandson, I would love to be a fly on the wall listening to the ensuing conversation. Really. Thank you, Diana.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A lot of the stories by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen have moral lessons from reading them or at least they have a different message than just what we read. For example, two of my favorites from Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Match Girl and The Red Shoes have excellent lessons to offer. The Little Match Girl, though she was horribly poor and cold and hungry, was able to overcome her challenges through her imagination which was shown in the form of Lighting the Match, and in the end, she transcended those challenges. And The Red Shoes is a story of an unbalanced life, where the only thing the young lady wants to do is dance, and so she does. Obsession with a behavior is an imbalance, so to me, each of these stories have a great lesson in them. I think these are good to read to children and then have a talk with them about what they think the story means. It would be an interesting thing to try it say in the lower grades – say 1 & 2, then 3rd & 4th, and then again in 5th & 6th grades, and see what the children came up with in each set. Great post!!!

    Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Jennie. I also have read that little childhood poems or ditties such as “Ring around the Rosies. Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down.” have to do with people dying from the plague and a way to explain it to children. So yes, good to have these ways to make the history of the world more understandable for children. Thank you kindly.

        Liked by 3 people

    • I would love, love to teach older children and read these fairy tales aloud, followed by a discussion. I think the discussion would be a long one and a good one! You are right, Anne- life has imbalance, and these stories can lead to a greater understanding. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I always enjoy Jennie’s posts, Sally, and this one did not disappoint. I have read some of those gruesome versions of fairy stories. I read somewhere once that the fears told of in fairytales are no worse than children’s own and help them cope. I don’t know. Perhaps. I do think we often try to sugar-coat life for children, which is probably a reason why so many fail to cope with any setback, no matter how trivial.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think what you read is true. The sugar-coating of life is an injustice to children. I remember when schools adopted games where everyone wins, or no one looses. That was not good, and those children have now grown to be dependent and expecting. The secret ingredient is talking with children about what is read, and treating that discussion like the key of life – because it is. Thank you, Norah.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wrote an article some time ago called “Summoning Forth the Boogeyman,” and it recounts how as children we start at a certain age to look for the boogeyman before we go off to sleep. No one necessarily tells us there is one, though they might talk of it, and certainly no one ever describes it to us, but yet we all have a clear image of what the boogeyman is to each one of us. And we go through years looking in the closet, behind doors and clothing hanging in the room to under the beds. Once we have reassured ourselves there is no boogeyman, we go off to sleep with the knowledge that we are once again safe. And then somewhere along the way, one day we stop looking for the boogeyman, and just go straight on to sleep. The boogeyman may return to our lives when we are adults in the form of our fears related to our work and our everyday lives, and it can be that sort of boogeyman that has no specific form or character. So that is, as it were, our own form of terror story that comes into our lives.

      It would be interesting to have children draw their own forms of the boogeyman and see what each one came up with and how they came to be aware of the boogeyman. I think it could actually be very therapeutic for children, for to me, it is one of the ways that children come to empower themselves in life.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I think we all have a need to give shape, color and name to the unknown, and the boogeyman, really, is something unknown. Have you ever noticed that when you are afraid of something, once you have identified it, it is, generally speaking, not something fearful anymore. Of course it might be that you heard a mouse, and I know I would freak out if I heard something and then discovered it was a mouse (chuckles).

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#Family – My Mother’s Fairy Tales by Jennie Fitzkee | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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