Jacob Grimm was born in Hanau, Germany, on January 4, 1785. With his brother Wilhelm, he began collecting traditional German folk tales, publishing their first volume, Children and Household Tales, in 1812. While many of these stories are still well known today—”Cinderella” and “Little Red Riding Hood” among them—their long-critiqued violence and frankness have been toned down over the years in more familiar versions. After a long career as an academic and librarian, Jacob died in 1863.
Learn more about the publication of the first volume of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder-und Hausmärchen), popularly known as Grimms’ Fairy Tales.
Students are always fascinated to learn that the fairy tales associated with the Brothers Grimm to which many of them have been exposed are not, in fact, the original Grimm versions; students have most likely only read or seen softened or “Disney-fied” versions. This activity has students encounter the original versions, so it may not be appropriate for younger students.
Have a student tell the story of Cinderella, starting from after the Ball. Then, have students read the end of the original version of the story and use the ReadWriteThink Venn Diagram interactive to compare and contrast this version with the more familiar retelling they heard from their classmate. Encourage students to discuss why certain changes might have been made and what the effects of those changes are on readers.
Next, ask students to choose a lesser-known Grimm story to read. Ask students to rewrite this story for an audience of elementary school children. Students should be able to explain what changes they made and the intended effects of those changes. Alternatively, students can use the Fractured Fairy Tales interactive to write alternative versions of fairy tales.
What is your favorite Grimm tale?
Curious about the NCTE and Library of Congress connection? Through a grant announced recently by NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick, NCTE is engaged in new ongoing work with the Library of Congress, and “will connect the ELA community with the Library of Congress to expand the use of primary sources in teaching.” Stay tuned for more throughout the year!
It is the policy of NCTE in all publications, including the Literacy & NCTE blog, to provide a forum for the open discussion of ideas concerning the content and the teaching of English and the language arts. Publicity accorded to any particular point of view does not imply endorsement by the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the staff, or the membership at large, except in announcements of policy, where such endorsement is clearly specified.