The Corner


Fairy Tales Aren’t Shallow


In her column today, Kat Timpf takes to task a Barcelona infant school’s outrageous decision to remove over 200 books from its library, citing “sexism” as the leading reason for tossing them out. Among the stories they get rid of are classic fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood.

Kat is right: This school is being overly sensitive and ridiculous in making this decision. But she leaves out, in my view, some of the more meaningful uses of fairy tales, which are not simply cutesy stories that we should use to shed light on “ the realities of the past,” show how “gender roles are changing,” or explain the historical specter of “sexism.”

For children’s stories can tell deeper truths. The fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde, and the Grimm Brothers (to name a few) talk about ignorance and wisdom, innocence and depravity, hatred, loss, and love. They juxtapose cowardice and courage, treachery and loyalty, terror and joy, all the while fulfilling their purpose as entertainment. But not just entertainment. These stories help to form young minds, teaching their readers to incorporate moral lessons into their own lives or to store them away for that day when they are faced with difficult decisions.

Much more could be said in defense of fairy tales as teachers of goodness, truth, and beauty, but for now, I’ll defer to J. R. R. Tolkien’s incredible essay On Fairy Stories. Then go pull out your old Blue Fairy Tale Book, but be careful: Its beauty may take you unawares.

Sarah Schutte is the podcast manager for National Review and an associate editor for National Review magazine. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, she is a children's literature aficionado and Mendelssohn 4 enthusiast.

Most Popular


Jussie Smollett Jokes Declared Off-Limits

The Jussie Smollett story has been declared not fit for jokes. "It's a straight-up tragedy," declares the co-creator of a Comedy Central show, South Side, set in Chicago. Bashir Salahuddin, a former Jimmy Fallon writer, says “The whole situation is unfortunate. Particularly for the city, there’s bigger ... Read More

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place ... Read More
PC Culture

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of ... Read More

Trump and the Black Vote

"Donald Trump is a racist, white supremacist, white nationalist. So are his supporters." Some version of that refrain is heard almost hourly somewhere in mainstream media. Democratic politicians seem to proclaim it more often than that. Listening only to the Left, you'd conclude that more than half a ... Read More