21st Century Literature discussion

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Book Chat > Neil Gaiman Reimagines Hansel & Gretel?

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message 1: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) “If you are protected from dark things then you have no protection of, knowledge of, or understanding of dark things when they show up.”

http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/...


message 2: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2306 comments This could be the spark for a "question of the week!" And the question would be -- Is there value to dark fairy stories for children? or something similar.

I remember recently reading some Grimm fairy tales and wondering why they are typically sold as children's literature. They are dark and scary. I like Gaiman's explanation -- "I think it is really important to show dark things to kids — and, in the showing, to also show that dark things can be beaten, that you have power. Tell them you can fight back, tell them you can win. Because you can — but you have to know that." His Coraline does that so well -- it scared the pants off me but that brave young lady perservered.


message 3: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I can't remember who was talking about it. But they were saying how all good fairy tales have darkness to them. Look at the original Grimms. It's parents who don't want any darkness in stories for children. I agree with Gaiman, we shouldn't spare the children the darkness.


message 4: by Rob (new)

Rob | 2 comments Also, I've heard that those stories weren't only written just to explain that darkness can be beaten. It's also about growing up, and things that involve growing up. I haven't read any of those stories myself, so you'll have to excuse me for not having a good example, but still. It's a way of preparing them for real life after their childhood and I think there are important messages in those stories that shouldn't be overlooked.


message 5: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2590 comments Mod
Great topic to bring up Kirsten! I was thinking about buying my nephew a copy of this book for the holidays.

I think it's really only the 20th century where we started to see so much over-protection of children (in terms of literature, movies, cartoons, etc. being so lighthearted).

Most children's nursery rhymes are pretty dark (they say "Ring Around the Rosie" is about the black plague). I've seen funny wording changes as I've grown up, too:
My parents used to have me (born in '75) pray "Now I lay me down to sleep... If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take... ". When my son was born (2002), I saw multiple books with "Now I lay me down to sleep... Guide me safely through the night, and wake me with the morning light." No mention of death or its possibility at all.

On the other hand, we now have more access to real life horror stories than ever before...

Do any of you still read fairy tales or folktales?


message 6: by Jane from B.C. (new)

Jane from B.C. (janethebookworm) | 63 comments Great topic! I love fairy tales and folktales. In fact, my daughter is taking a college English class that is focusing on fairy tales right now and we are having some great dinner table discussions.

With regard to stories being 'too dark' for children....It brings to mind an Opinion piece that I read in the NY Times back in 2001. This was in the newspaper on the eve of the first Halloween after the Sept. 11 attacks. Authour Daniel Handler who wrote using the pen name, Lemony Snicket, is the authour of the highly poplular "Series of Unfortunate Event's" series. He shared his views on this subject . Though, his stories are not fairy tales, Snicket's books are a constant barrage of truly tragic things happening to a trio of orphan children. My daughter (and thousands of other children) loved the series!


message 7: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2306 comments Marc wrote: "Do any of you still read fairy tales or folktales?"

I do read read them, as well as books that use them, such as The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, in which the fairy tales we all know are modified in the fantasy world of a young boy. I highly recommend the book.


message 8: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2590 comments Mod
Jane from B.C.: I bet that class makes for wonderful dinner table discussions! It seems like the best classic and contemporary children's lit are dark, but find a light through which to survive (couldn't get my own son hooked on the Lemony Snicket series but he adored Harry Potter--as did I--and a number of other stories with a lot of tragedy/darkness).

Linda: The Connolly book looks like a good read. I'm hoping to read The 1001 Arabian Nights within the next few months (although this group recommends so many fascinating selections, who knows when I'll actually get to it).


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