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Reading fairytales to children


I’m going to take today’s story in the Daily Telegraph, about how parents no longer read old-fashioned fairytales to their children, with a grain of salt. Firstly, the Telegraph loves to lambast political correctness and, secondly, it was a PR-generated survey (and being a PR person I know all about those).

A third of parents refused to read Little Red Riding Hood because she walks through woods alone and finds her grandmother eaten by a wolf. One in 10 said Snow White should be re-named because “the dwarf reference is not PC”.

Rapunzel was considered “too dark” and Cinderella has been dumped amid fears she is treated like a slave and forced to do all the housework.

Of course, political correctness is rife but children are still children. I wouldn’t take these results as gospel. Where are all the movie-related children’s books for instance.

Last night, my six-year-old daughter and I finished Danny the Champion of the World. Another winner from Roald Dahl. She’s now an expert on poaching, which should serve her well in the future. As the book went on, she began to actually act out the scenes as I was reading them. When Danny and his dad are sneaking into Victor Hazel’s wood, she crawled on her belly around the bedroom. As the doped pheasants were falling from the trees, she ran around the room pretending to pick up the stunned birds. In fact, the thing my daughter found the most confusing was when Danny was caned – I had to stop and explain how kids used to be caned in schools and she looked completely baffled.

If the Telegraph report is to be believed, I should not be reading Danny the Champion of the World to my daughter. 1) It promotes stealing as a good thing, 2) Some pheasants are drugged against their will and six die, 3) A fat man’s Rolls Royce is defaced, 4) The policeman is corrupt, and 5) Danny drives a car on the road despite being only nine.

Of course, Danny is being brought up by a single parent so that might balance things out.

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Richard Davies

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