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Modern Fairy Tales for Kids

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. We also recommend this article titled, 10 Reasons Why Kids Need to Read Non-Disney Fairy Tales.

You can shop for all these books on our Bookshop page.
Ra Pu Zel and the Stinky Tofu

Author: Ying Chang Compestine | Illustrator: Crystal Kung| Publisher: Rocky Pond Books

"The story of Rapunzel where she’s being locked in a tower by a witch is a good one—but it’s not totally the truth.

The real story is about a young princess in China named Ra Pu Zel who doesn’t want to talk to princes or look proper. What Pu Zel wants is to cook and eat in peace, her long hair neatly braided to keep it out of her food. And when she gets tired of everyone telling her what to do, she locks herself in a tower with her dog Bao. Although princes from everywhere try to convince her to come down, it’s not until a young chef arrives with an intriguing food to share that Ra Pu Zel finally has a reason."

It's Not Little Red Riding Hood

Author: Josh Funk | Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor| Publisher: Two Lions

"Little Red likes to play by the rules. So when the narrator comes along and asks her to follow the story set out in her fairy tale, she grabs the basket for Grandma and goes. After all, she loves her grandma. But unfortunately, none of the other characters are quite what they’re expecting.…

As Little Red attempts to follow the narrator’s directions (which, frankly, seem kind of dangerous!), she is beset by fill-in characters, confusing instructions, and even a fierce battle! Will Little Red ever make it to Grandma’s house? And who will she find when she gets there? Complete with some unusual “guest appearances,” this laugh-out-loud Little Red Riding Hood retelling will have kids giggling all the way to Grandma’s house! Ding-dong!"

Bo the Brave

Author/Illustrator: Bethan Woollvin| Publisher: Peachtree

Bethan Woollvin is the creator behind many of our favorite modern fairy tales, including, Three Little Vikings, Little Red, Rapunzel and Hansel and Gretel.

"Bo wants to be just like her brothers and capture a fearsome monster, but Bo is small—too small to catch a monster. Or so her brothers say. Luckily, Bo isn't one to take no for an answer, and so she sets off on a quest to catch a monster of her own. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken, and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or are the real monsters lurking closer than she thinks?

Author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Little Red, delivers an original fairy tale with a spirited female protagonist, a vibrant medieval backdrop, and a clever twist ending."

The Three Little Tardigrades: A Slightly Scientific Fairy Tale

Author/Illustrator: Sandra Fay| Publisher: Peachtree

"Gavin, Colin, and Doug live on a cozy little drop of H2O until one day, their mother tells them it’s time for them to grow up and leave home. In search of the perfect place to settle down, the three little tardigrades (also known as "moss piglets") journey to an underwater ice cave, an erupting volcano, and even the moon! They can survive under extreme conditions, but can they avoid the Big Hairy Wolf Spider. . .?

Humor and scientific facts about these resilient microscopic creatures come together to remix a beloved story–with an unexpected twist (and tons of laughs)!

Includes material at the end of the book with detailed information about tardigrades, a glossary of terms from the book, and more science for eager young readers."

The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra

Author: Marc Tyler Nobleman | Illustrator: Ana Aranda| Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

"With its hilarious dialogue, trio of bumbling goats, and fantastically zany villain, this unique, laugh-out-loud story based on a legendary monster is sure to crack up kids and grown-ups alike.

 Like most goats, Jayna, Bumsie, and Pep’s greatest fear is being eaten for dinner by the legendary chupacabra—it’s common knowledge that goats are a chupacabra’s favorite food! One night, tired of living in fear, the impetuous goats whip out their trusty candelabra and head off to find the beast and scare it away before it can find them. Little do they know that candelabras are the chupacabra’s third-favorite food . . . and he isn’t about to stop there. This chupacabra has quite the appetite, and the goats are in for a big surprise!"

Prince and Knight

Author: Daniel Haack | Illustrator: Stevie Lewis| Publisher: little bee books

"In this modern fairy tale, a noble prince and a brave knight come together to defeat a terrible monster and in the process find true love in a most unexpected place.

"Thank you," he told his parents.

"I appreciate that you tried,

but I'm looking for something special

in a partner by my side."

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far from here, there was a prince in line to take the throne, so his parents set out to find him a kind and worthy bride. The three of them traveled the land far and wide, but the prince didn't quite find what he was looking for in the princesses they met.

While they were away, a terrible dragon threatened their land, and all the soldiers fled. The prince rushed back to save his kingdom from the perilous beast and was met by a brave knight in a suit of brightly shining armor. Together they fought the dragon and discovered that special something the prince was looking for all along. This book is published in partnership with GLAAD to accelerate LGBTQ inclusivity and acceptance."

Princess and the Peas

Author/Illustrator: Rachel Himes| Publisher: Charlesbridge

"In this adaptation of "The Princess and the Pea," there are no mattresses.  Ma Sally cooks the best black-eyed peas in Charleston County, South Carolina. Her son, John, is a highly eligible bachelor, and three local women vie for his hand in marriage by attempting to cook as well as Ma. At the last minute, a surprise contestant named Princess arrives at the door. Princess and John are well-matched, but Princess has her own ideas. When told she has won John’s hand, she asks him to scrub the pots and pans before she'll give him an answer."

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.

Boo Stew

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.


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