10+ Reimagined & Diverse Fairy Tales for Young Readers
Fairy tales are a wonderful way to incorporate conversations about activism, ethics, empathy and understanding. They often feature characters who are in conflict about what to do, or what not to do, and typically undergo transition and change relating to their experiences and learning. These stories can fuel heartfelt conversations and meaningful connections in classrooms and at home.
Most classic fairy tales lack authentic representation and do not accurately represent the world we live in. We know that kids need access to books that allow them to feel seen, and also give them a glimpse into another person's world. We are excited to showcase and recommend more recently published books that feature characters of color, and character's with diverse life experiences. We have compiled a list of some of our favorite reimagined and fractured fairy tales that better affirm and reflect the diversity of young readers.
Federico and the Wolf
Author: Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrator: Elisa Chavarri | Publisher: Clarion Books
This is a distinctively Mexican-American take on Little Red Riding Hood. With colorful illustrations, rhythmic prose and Spanish words woven throughout the story, it is a delightful read that cannot be missed. It also includes a delicious salsa recipe that Federico and his abuelo make in the story. Educators, check out this free compare and contrast activity and a YouTube read aloud of the story.
The Little Blue Bridge
Author: Brenda Maier | Illustrator: Sonia Sanchez | Publisher: Scholastic Press
This modern take on The Three Billy Goats Gruff features a spunky and resourceful heroine who refuses to be bullied or excluded. She figures out a new solution to everyone’s problem and builds friendships along the way. We also recommend the first book in this series, The Little Red Fort, for its similar girl-power vibe and fun, creative problem-solving. You can adapt this teaching guide for use with either story. If you are interested in a comparing fairy tales unit, we love the book The Three Billy Goats Fluff, as well.
The Girl and the Wolf
Author: Katherena Vermette | Illustrator: Julie Flett | Publisher: Theytus Books
The Girl and the Wolf is a beautiful, Indigenous twist on the classic wolf narrative. When a little girl gets lost in the forest, a large gray wolf approaches - at first, frightening her - until she learns that he wants to help her. He encourages her to see the world more clearly, and find her way home. Instead of the typical storyline where the wolf is chased away (or worse), they form a connection and she is full of gratitude for him.
Author: Donna L. Washington | Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler | Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Curly Locks loves to cook, but nobody likes to eat anything she makes! One day, she is shocked that someone (or something!) takes one of her dishes from the windowsill. She then learns that Scares from Toadsuck Swamp are inside the mayor’s house and terrorizing everyone! Nobody knows what to do, but Curly Locks has a solution - maybe they will enjoy her cooking! With its detailed and lively illustrations and dialogue, this is a great story to read aloud, and a wonderful example of what an empowered heroine looks like. Educators, check out these amazing teaching resources from the publisher that include a cookbook, an activity kit and teaching guide, to make this story come to life for your little readers.
Little Red Gliding Hood
Author: Tara Lazar | Illustrator: Troy Cummings | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Little Red Gliding Hood lives in the enchanted forest, and loves to ice skate more than anything. She is devastated when her skates get worn-out and feel too tight - how will she get to grandma’s for her weekly visit? As luck would have it, the forest is hosting a partner skating competition and the prize is a brand new pair of skates! Little Red Gliding Hood needs to find the perfect partner, and surprises everyone by picking the Not-So-Bad-Wolf. We love how this book reminds children to truly get to know each other, and help others see the good around them. This story is extra fun because of its cast of familiar characters, including the Seven Dwarfs, Hansel and Gretel, Baby Bear and Little Miss Muffet. The author has also compiled a list of resources you can access for free.
La Princesa and the Pea
Author: Susan Middleton Elya | Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal | Publisher: G.P Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
This Latino twist on the classic tale is refreshing and beautifully illustrated. The art was inspired by the textiles of Indigenous peoples of Peru. El príncipe knows when he finds the perfect woman for him, but his mother does not agree and insists on testing her to see if she is worthy. What she does not know is that her son and his future bride are much more clever than she realizes! Click here for a YouTube read aloud by our friend, Maya, from MaiStoryBookLibrary!
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas
Author: Natasha Yim | Illustrator: Grace Zong | Publisher: Charlesbridge
This retelling of Goldy Locks and the Three Bears takes place around Chinese New Year. It follows Goldy Luck, who is supposed to drop off turnip cakes to the neighbors, but finds herself in a lot of trouble instead. She tries their food, their chairs and their beds, and nothing good comes of it! Can she turn everything around in time to celebrate the new year?
Better Together, Cinderella (A Big Sister Fairy Tale)
Author: Ashley Franklin | Illustrator: Ebony Glenn | Publisher: HarperCollins
This modern and fun twist follows Tameika on her journey to become a big sister. She wants to be the best big sister, but her efforts to be perfect are wasted on her new siblings. Not until the inaugural family ball does Tameika realize she needs to focus on being herself first, before she can be the sister her siblings need. Everything seems to click into place once she lets herself shine. This is the follow-up book to Not Quite, Snow White - another wonderful read we recommend!
Lastly, we want to recommend the Penguin Bedtime Classics (Board Book Series). It includes seven fairy tale classics, such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Jack and the Beanstalk, and The Princess and the Pea. We love how most of the books in the series feature main characters of color, and allow all children to feel more represented in these classic tales. Since they are board books, they are also more durable and appropriate for even our youngest readers.