Fairy Tales and Why We Still Need Them As Adults

Fairy Tales

I grew up pouring through the multiple collections of fairy tales and folklore available through my own book case the local library. Each time I cracked open a new story, I was enshrouded in endless possibilities that fostered exploration and piqued curiosity. But there was also something of greater value within.

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Through these journeys I faced countless obstacles which not only challenged the protagonist, but myself. The end result was often a rewarding lesson of morals that actually helped my younger self navigate the early stages of right and wrong in life. It is easy to understand why these stories that have been passed down for generations will be forever timeless.

Today’s YA and often Adult fantasy aisles are littered with retellings and re-imaginings of countless classics. You can easily find stories of Sleeping Beauty or Vasilisa the Beautiful. And I could not be more thrilled about this. While we find that many authors are choosing to revisit the more original and sinister root of some stories, there is still significant value to be found between the pages in our older age.

Fairy tales help us explore our emotions. Even as adults, it can be difficult to face and work through the multiple and often complex emotions that life throws at us on a daily basis. More often than not, the narrative within these stories feature a protagonist who is facing several dilemmas and will experience a wide array of feelings ranging from sorrow to gratification along the way. It can often be strengthening and inspiring to not only relate to these feeling and hurdles but witness how the protagonist chooses to overcome them.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

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Our moral compass muscle still needs to be flexed. I am a firm believer that we should never stop striving to do better and be better. Even as we age, we need to be reminded of the good and bad in this world and assess how we handle each. Fairy tales are saturated with actions and consequences that we can still learn from. Those meaningful messages tucked within do not lose value simply because we are older. In fact, I have found that I have been able to garner more from some stories now than I did in childhood.

“Fairy tales were not my escape from reality as a child; rather, they were my reality — for mine was a world in which good and evil were not abstract concepts, and like fairy-tale heroines, no magic would save me unless I had the wit and heart and courage to use it widely.”
― Terri Windling

Continuing to explore other cultures and traditions is important. We live in a constantly changing world. For many of us, a large portion of it might be left unseen or unexplored. Through folklore and fairy tales, we are given a glimpse into various aspects of life such as religion, social customs and very practices that we may never have encountered otherwise.

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Sometimes we just need to let go and dream a little. Life can be more than hard at times. Engaging in reading (particularly fantasy) provides the reader with a healthy reprieve. Stories that feature our favorite characters and elements from childhood fairy tales offer a fun, nostalgic form of escapism with the added benefits mentioned above.

The widely growing selection of retellings often take the classics and place a spin on them that appeals to an older target audience but still captures the necessary components when successfully executed. I have little doubt that I will continue to devour fairy tales for many years to come.

Do you still enjoy fairy tales? If so, what is it that you feel draws you back to them as an adult?

Let’s Chat,

Danielle ❤

67 thoughts on “Fairy Tales and Why We Still Need Them As Adults

  1. Though I don’t get a chance to read them nowadays, I am a firm lover of fairy tales. Modern fantasy often degenerates into an excessive realism, which lacks enchantment and strangeness. But the greatest fairy tales have this in abundance. Piercing beauty, primitive elements, and so much more. I much prefer the more primitive versions of stories; for example, Grimm’s Aschenputtel is an earlier version of Cinderella, and it’s far better.

    Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories is the best on this topic, and its central message is exactly what your post is about: that adults need fairy tales more than children, and that it’s a mere accident of history that they became associated with children.

    I recently read Undine, and it sure was beautiful, though the ending was unsatisfying to me.

    Take care 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had to check because I couldn’t remember the writer’s name, though I read the book just a couple weeks ago. The author is Friedrich de la Motte Fouque, a German writer from the 19th-century. Undine truly was beautiful, but I didn’t like the ending. It’s about a water nymph that marries a knight, and things unfortunately don’t go well towards the end. Alas, that this is always the case when mortals and otherworldy beings marry! I think that Tolkien’s Goldberry could well be modeled on Undine. Anyway, that essay of Tolkien’s is wonderful. I haven’t read it in years though. Need to take another look at it.

        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is something I have missed during my childhood. I don’t know why, but I never appealed by fairytales, and it might be why today I find them difficult to understand. My mind is not used to them and they feel so complicated, I always get the feeling I am missing on a hidden meaning or something. Great post, love! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post! I enjoy them but I tend to gravitate to darker, more adult retellings now. Or maybe they’re not retellings but more like the origin stories behind the tale. Fairy tales are NOT like their Disney counterparts and I far more enjoy those tales.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love fairytales! My dad taught me how to read with a book of them, and they’ve stuck with me ever sense. While I do like the range of retellings going on, I do prefer the ones that have a sense of strangeness and wonder in them- lik the stories from Lord Dunsany’s ‘Fifty-One Tales’.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Fifty-One Tales is a collection of short stories by Lord Dunsany, who was a contemporary of Tolkien. They are mostly fantasy and fairy tales, but some of the stories bend toward science fiction, if I recall correctly. It’s a fairly short book, and many of the stories are just a few pages long.

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  5. I love this Danielle! (And the Pan’s Labyrinth gif ♥) What I really like about fairy tale retellings is how, at their best, the author brings out all the complexity we might have missed or just not understood as children. We tend to think of them as simple stories with easy morals, but going back over a lot of the classics you see that they don’t need many changes to suit an adult reader. And if I’m going to grapple with complex moral questions, I’d much rather do it in a fantasy world 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely my friend! Fairytales have always been a source of comfort for me, just seeing the words “Once Upon a time” as a kid would instantly make the real world fade into the background. I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading the genre & like you, get a lot more from them now as an adult than I did as a child. Love the gif btw, one of my all time fave movies is Pan’s Labyrinth 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I like how fairy tales, are in a way, very uncomplicated. Evil is evil and good is good and the tales don’t mess around with that. Evil people can punished and good people rewarded and readers see it as justice. I think that is what makes “Beauty and the Beast” so interesting, for example. I think it’s meant to be uncomplicated exploration of how unconditional love can be transforming. It is modern retellings that start wondering about grey areas and if Beauty should really love Beast, and so forth. And I love modern retellings for that. I love that they try to find explanations for things left unexplained and try to make things complex. But I also love fairy tales that just ask readers to take things on faith. Why must you catch a bird to break the spell or attempt something three times to win the quest or walk in a circle to discover the truth? Because that’s just the way it is!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! And it is through these various techniques that fairy tales easily appeal to such a dynamic audience I think! Regardless of how much depth one seeks, there seems to be a viable option full of magic and morals for every reader. I can easily share and discuss them with my children or pick on up that will challenge me as an individual! I think I love them more as I grow.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I do enjoy fairy tales, Danielle, and read all the Anderson and Grimm stories to my own children. I was thinking, while reading your post, that you don’t really get modern fairytales that address the moral dilemmas of our current world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved sharing them with my kids 💕 They read more on their own and for school now though. I feel like newer retellings are attempting to tackle those dilemmas and some succeed so well, but it is still a very hit and miss process. I have encounter quite a few that address issues of neglect, isolation and abuse lately that seem relevant. But I would like to see more topics approached!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a lovely post! I loved reading fairy tales as a kid and I still love them… For all of the reasons you mentioned above. And my heart skipped a beat after seeing the Pan’s Labyrinth gif! I absolutely love that movie (it was one of the first I saw in Spanish during my study and it blew me away).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Agree. Agree. Agreed again. I´m a huge advocate of Fairytales. No matter what story you read- There´s always a powerful message for a reader. There´s always a piece you will take away with you and maybe weave into your day to day life. I belong to the sinister fairytale lovers. As a kid, the had such an impact on me and actually formed my way of thinking. Even today, I sit and think about one or two fairytales that I can compare to a situation I´m going through. It´s also great to see that the power of fairytales has effected my children, as well.
    A few weeks ago, my oldest daughter and I were out shopping. It was freezing outside. We saw a homeless guy with his daughter near huddled together under a bridge. My daughter stopped and watched the two. I watched my daughter take in the scene. I saw her thoughts on her face as she studied the two with their hands cupped together. She snapped out of it and said “Mom? Remember `The Little Match Girl`?” On the one side I was proud she remembered ( because she´s such an aloof kid, LOL ) but I was also sad she made the connection. We came home and a week later she put a stack of papers on the diningroom table. She wrote her own version of The Little Match Girl. A proud mommy moment that had me balling my eyes out. ( FORGIVE ME FOR LITTERING YOUR COMMENT BOX!!! *hides face*) Great post! Do more of these, please! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing that! I absolutely love it ❤ This is a shining example of how fairy tales are not only impactful but incredibly beneficial. The lessons and stories seem to stay with us eternally, constantly helping to shape us and accomplish and face so much more than we probably realize! ❤

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  11. i return to fairytales out of nostalgia. I read a few as a kid so when I read them now, I recall my childhood. Also I love the fantastic elements in them.
    Have you ever watched Jen Campbell’s YouTube videos? If not, I think you might like her folklore/fairytale series where she discusses certain folkloric & fairytale elements and different stories. It’s quite interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such a beautiful tribute to something so near and dear to your heart. You hit the nail on the head with each point Danielle. I honestly feel sad when people say they outgrew fairytales and no longer read them.

    I was so happy to see the Neil Gaiman quote from Coraline included in this post. I feel like Neil Gaiman is a modern fairytale writer… sure, some are dark fairytales, but fairytales none the less. There is something so whimsical about his books. Stardust in particular felt very fairytale-ish and obviously The Sleeper and the Spindle.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Absolutely beautiful post, Danielle. You’re completely right on all fronts and I couldn’t have said it all any better. The world needs fairy tales, and everyone should explore them young or old. I’ve always loved a story with a good moral to it, and they’re usually really clear and powerful in fairytales. I don’t read a lot of them right now, but I definitely haven’t scrapped them off my list of books to pick up.

    Liked by 1 person

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