Creating a Fairy Tale Summer

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Trust me, it’s not what you’re thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I like to think that I create a magical environment for my kids in the summer, but this isn’t regarding our summer fun adventures.

The planning of a fairy tale summer has to do with something I overheard during the school year. As a former teacher, I try to be in-tune to what teachers and other school personnel have to say, especially when it comes to missed milestones and learning gaps. I think all parents work hard to make sure their kids are checking all the age-appropriate boxes.

While I was volunteering in the library at my son’s school one day, the librarian and a first-grade teacher were chatting about one such gap. My mama ears were on high alert. It all boiled down to this – kids today don’t know fairy tales.

Yes, for those of the Disney variety, there are a larger majority of kids in the know, but the stories that haven’t hit the big screen are often out of the loop. Kids aren’t well versed in Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood or Rumpelstiltskin.

This got me thinking about our home library collection and the go-to books that the youngest picks when we head to the library. We’ve got our own resource section on dinosaurs and Pete the Cat is practically a member of the family, and there are lots of Mo Willems’ tales, but we’re pretty light on the traditional fairy tales. The copies we do have are seldom plucked from the shelf when it’s time for choosing, and they certainly aren’t well-worn favorites.

Good grief, I taught English for nearly 20 years, and I’ve dropped the ball on my own kid!

There are just so many new titles out there that a lot of the classics have fallen to the wayside. My love for discovering new characters with my son and fueling his non-fiction curiosity for dinosaurs and sharks has somehow left a gap.

My goal this summer is to fill it! I hit the Scholastic site and ordered up the fairy tale collections for his reading level. I’ve pulled all of the classics off of the overstuffed bookshelves in the house, and I’m adding a fairy tale twist to our summer reading plan. This doesn’t mean that fairy tales will be the sole reading materials this summer, but they will definitely be finding their way into the rotation on a regular basis.

The beauty of fairy tales is that they offer lots of variation and fun. There are many modern twists on fairy tale classics that can make for great discussion and entertainment. Whether it’s Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks or Ninjabread Man (Are you catching a theme in our household?), diving into how this new twist differs from the original is a perfect summer challenge.

My plan is to tackle a different fairy tale each week. We’ll start with the original and then see how many variations we can discover at home, at the library, or online. We’ll check into movie or cartoon adaptations and give Pinterest a whirl for some crafty options if we feel so inspired.

By making it an adventure in reading and discovery, I’m hoping to make lasting connections that have my son catching references to the rabbit hole and glass slippers and breadcrumb paths and grasping the meaning the author intended by placing them there.

Who knows? Maybe today’s budding authors will be alluding to Pete the Cat and Pinkalicious in future tales, but I’m going to play it safe and get the classics in there, too.

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Lani is relatively new to Cincinnati, and after living in Columbus for nearly three decades, she’s glad to be back in the Buckeye State! Keeping all wheels turning with her family of five serves as her full-time job, but she stays active with her teaching background by blogging and freelance writing for several education companies. When she’s not stealing some time at the keyboard, she enjoys exploring all Cincinnati has to offer through the eyes of her five-year-old. Cooking, traveling, and binge-watching a good drama series round out her favorites, but some of those happen much more often than others!

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