I grew up with a copy of The Random House Book of Fairy Tales, which is a pretty comprehensive collection of classic stories from Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, and more. I was obsessed with the illustrations; they were so different from what I was accustomed to seeing.
There’s the usual tales: Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White. The Emperor’s New Clothes, Puss in Boots, The Elves and The Shoemaker. Sleeping Beauty, Jack in the Bean Stock, Beauty and the Beast, The Frog Prince. Familiar story lines, illustrated with unique characters bordering on caricature.
Then there’s the less popular stories, like The Steadfast Tin Soldier, which had the saddest ending. I felt so betrayed each time, because that’s not how fairy tales are supposed to end.
The Valiant Little Tailor is a story about a tailor who I remember to be quite clever, but upon rereading, he starts off being mostly arrogant. He swats seven flies dead, and decides the whole world must know, so he immediately makes a belt that says, “Seven at one blow” and then sets off into the world. He pretends to squeeze milk out of a rock by hiding cheese in his hand, and tricks a giant into doing him all sorts of favors.
Watching Frozen, I realized that its loosely based on The Snow Queen, a story about a queen who shoots ice into the heart of a little boy, and takes him captive. Fortunately, his sister loves him quite a lot, and rescues him and melts the ice. I always marveled at how brave she was, venturing into the unknown to save her brother.
So it doesn’t have to be THIS exact collection, but traditional fairy tales should be a staple to any child’s reading, if only to provide a broader understanding of where Disney gets its movie ideas.