10 Best Fairly Tale Books to Read to your Kids at Bedtime in 2018

There’s nothing like reading a book and having the ability to fall into its story, get whisked away with its characters, and become captivated by its plot. Fairy tales have long been known to provide all of these things for their readers which is why they’ve survived well into the new millennium, as they continue to beckon imaginative readers into their immersive stories. You’ll find these fables in your child’s classroom, on reading lists, and on display at your local library because they all have one thing in common: Perfection. A fairy tale is a story that has been passed down and truly embeds itself into the memories of those who hear them, simply because they’ve had so many years to have been perfected through word of mouth. Eventually, someone began writing them down, and that’s how we’ve ended up with books like Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables. Each story features colorful and bold characters, villains that you love to despise, and a storyline that’s unbelievably imaginative and entertaining. Fables are stories that teach some sort of lesson and end in a valuable moral, making them even more relevant to life today.

Now that centuries have passed since the first fairy tales were written, we’ve seen new literature come onto the scene that’s intended for preteens and teens. These stories take those classic ideas and have created something genuine and mature of it them, which has to lead to a new genre that kids love. On this list, we’ve included traditional tales as well as some new and inspired takes in order to reach a variety of reading groups. We hope that your child will fall in love with these stories as much as we have, and come to realize that age doesn’t dictate when to stop believing in fairy tales… Magic is everywhere!

10 Best Fairy Tale Books Reviewed

 

1. Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales

1. Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales
It's the original, and it's simply stunning. This leather-bound edition of some of the greatest fairy tales to grace libraries everywhere is both a treat and an adventure to read through.
Expand to see more
There is no better starting place for fairy tales than to begin with the classic that inspired them all. Grimm's Fairy Tales were the original stories that brought to life the magic that is a fairy tale, and this book isn't just full of wonder and exciting adventure, but it's stunning from the outside as well. The book itself is leather-bound and features a beautiful gold emblazoned front, as well as over 200 original stories and an additional ten children's legends. The beautiful thing about this book is its introduction; along with a photo of the two authors who penned these stories is an inscription of what a fairy tale actually is. The way this type of story is described is simply beautiful and the authors claim it is, "... a traditional story that doesn't have a definite author but belongs to everyone equally." It brings home the notion that these tall tales have truly been passed down but remained the same in their original charm and content, if for nothing else but to bring joy to anyone who hears them. You'll find that this book is so much more than a collection of stories but is, in fact, a collection of history, culture, and exploration as well.

Benefits
There are just some books that deserve to be part of your child's collection. Grimm's complete collection should be on everyone's shelf simply because these stories are timeless and flawless in their writing and meaning.

What We Like About It
The design of this collection suits its purpose perfectly. The leather exterior and gold inscription on the front conveys just how powerful the stories inside are. Not to mention, it'll look amazing on any bookshelf!
Pros

It's a complete collection of Grimm's work

The book itself is gorgeous

Leather helps to preserve the integrity of the book

Includes additional legends

Perfect for any age as the stories are relatively short

Cons

The English translation takes away from some of the humor

2. The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables

2. The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables
If learning the moral of the story is something your child really enjoys, Aesop's Fables must be on their bookshelf. These stories are filled with true-to-life lessons that are helping teachers.
Expand to see more
Similar to fairy tales, fables are short stories that deliver a powerful message with one difference: Fables always have a moral to bring to the table, as well. Many of us remember reading some of these in grade school and having the intriguing job of figuring out what, exactly, the moral was from the particular story we were assigned. Aesop's Fables pulls the reader in with fascinating stories of various wild creatures in order to convey a message that will resonate and truly push the reader to think. Some of these fables are exercises in caution, some teach important life lessons, and others are simply a word of advice. They all represent some aspect of life that many can relate to and serve as a great piece of literature for any child's bookshelf. With so much literature that's intended to be read for pleasure only, Aesop's Fables still hold fast in their placement to deliver a powerful message; powerful enough to make kids truly ponder what it is they've learned from the text. If nothing else, many of these are entertaining stories of what not to do!

Benefits
It's really the animals who are at the focus of each story that brings to life lessons that we still hold to be true today. These stories are far from boring and serve as a fun guide in telling kids that not everything is as it seems, and even animals get themselves into some sticky situations.

What We Like About It
Classics should always be read, once and often. Aesop's Fables is one of those collections that a child will commit to memory and can always look back on, which makes it a valuable part of anyone's book selection.
Pros

Each story has a valuable moral

The text is fairly easy to read

Often satisfies a reading requirement for school

Completely collection of fables

It's a classic and illustrated beautifully

Cons

A different artist has been assigned to each fable making illustrations drastically different

3. The Fairy-Tale Detectives (Sisters Grimm #1)

3. The Fairy-Tale Detectives (Sisters Grimm #1)
This fun, playful take on the Grimm tales is perfect for teens. It's a great mystery series that was inspired by some of the most popular fairy tales we have the pleasure of knowing.
Expand to see more
Now, here's a novel that has taken the idea of the Brothers Grimm and turned it into something entirely creative and imaginative. For preteens and teens, this book series is an excellent way for them to enjoy the Grimm stories they loved so much as children in a more mature, adult way. This story tackles the (imagined) Grimm family history from the point of view of descendants of the Grimm brothers, who find out their relation through their grandmother. The imagination and creativity that went into writing this book are not to be missed, as the plot follows the idea that each Grimm tale is actually a case file! The Sisters Grimm take on the wild adventure of investigating each story which lands them in some crazy situations, but, of course, they always figure a way out of them. The Fairy-Tale Detectives is fun, adventurous, and truly encapsulates what it means to modernize the idea of a fairy tale without going too far or straying from the classic theme that the Brothers Grimm worked so hard to create.

Benefits
This book series is perfect for preteens and gives them a chance to dive back into the fairy tale world without re-reading stories they've heard before. It's a classic reimagining that's truly profound and addicting.

What We Like About It
The level of added maturity to these mystery books will captivate any reader over the age of eight. It's an easy read with a plot that will keep them hooked and coming back for more.
Pros

Good choice for older kids

Easy reading level

A brilliant re-telling of fairy tales

Fun and entertaining storyline

Reads like a mystery book

Cons

A more thorough explanation behind the plot was a common criticism

4. The Golden Book of Fairy Tales

4. The Golden Book of Fairy Tales
This book contains the most popular fairy tales that your child is sure to love. Many of these have inspired popular Disney movies and still hold their entertainment value to this day.
Expand to see more
For a bit of a more modern (and what inspired some of the most popular Disney movies) take on fairy tales, The Golden Book is one collection that absolutely must be on your child's shelf. With the Disney adaptions of these popular tales, we often forget that at one point, they were stories that have been retold for decades. This book was written in 1958 and contains some of the most beloved stories that kids will appreciate reading for the first time, especially if they've already fallen in love with the movie adaptations. In this book, your child will find Thumbelina, Cinderella, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, and even Little Red Riding Hood. All of these classic tales hold a place in our hearts, and we're not just talking about kids -- Adults love them, too! Stories such as these will set the tone for any type of bonding you and your child have over reading and make for excellent bedtime stories as well as rainy-day stories. They hold a magic that's truly incomparable to modern literature and are forever timeless. In addition to these most popular stories, this collection contains 28 total, coming from places such as Japan, Germany, Russia, Franch, and Sweden.

Benefits
Your child will have a wide reach across the globe with all the literature found in this collection. Not only is it a classic collection, but it also reflects culture, history, and how each writing style was influenced during that time period.

What We Like About It
The illustration in this book is absolutely striking. Marie Ponsot has done an incredible job creating artwork that matches each story and paints a scene so that the reader can be fully immersed in what they're reading.
Pros

Contains popular Disney movie fairy tales

The artwork is unparalleled

The reading style is unique and original

Great for new collectors of fairy tales

Includes stories from various cultures

Cons

Some of the illustrations are in black and white and not very colorful

5. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition

5. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition
For those who are just looking for a taste of fairy tales and love history, this first edition is pure magic. It contains all the original Brothers Grimm stories from 1812, all perfectly translated to be made easy to understand.
Expand to see more
The Grimm tales can be traced back as far as 1812 during their conception, where two brothers had the idea of writing children's stories that were exciting, entertaining, and would push the limits of your average literature. This is yet another collection with illustrations by Andrea Dezsö. This book has a slightly different translation and would be excellent for older kids, because the text has not been censored in any, shape, or form, and even contains the proper German titles in addition to the English translation. The forward by translator Zack Gripes is both thoughtful and informative and would be of great value to someone who thoroughly enjoys these tales. It's a mature collection for the preteen or teen who truly values the culture and history that comes with a collection such as this. This varies from the previous collection we've included because it contains only the very first stories -- Those that were penned in 1812 and were widely accepted as pieces of wonderful literature. This first edition is the key to what started the Brothers Grimm on their literary journey and is truly a gift.

Benefits
Rather than being overwhelmed by a complete collection of the Grimm stories (over 200 in all), this is a great way to introduce both history and the stories themselves to your child. It's a beautiful book filled with fantastic illustrations to match.

What We Like About It
This forward not only includes an in-depth history of the Grimm Brothers and their writings but also a reason and explanation for why this book has been translated. It feels a bit more personal that way and you can be sure that your child will have a renewed appreciation for these stories which have been passed down.
Pros

The illustrations are amazing

It's a direct translation with no censoring

Contains first editions of each tale

The forward is enlightening and informative

Includes the original German titles as well

Cons

This might be a bit harder for kids under ten to understand

6. Seriously, Cinderella Is SO Annoying! (The Other Side of the Story)

6. Seriously, Cinderella Is SO Annoying! (The Other Side of the Story)
You know how terrible her stepfamily was, but did you know Cinderella wasn't exactly fun to be around? This hilarious story recounts the fairy tale from another side.
Expand to see more
This short story (only 24 pages) is ideal for young kids. Anyone under the age of ten will likely enjoy this story about Cinderella. However, it might not be what you quite expect. The story goes that Cinderella was at the mercy of her stepsisters and wicked stepmother, however, no one has ever written from their perspective until now. This story dives into how Cinderella was the one who was a constant annoyance to her stepfamily, which has resulted in a hilarious re-imagining of a classic fairy tale and a popular Disney movie. Young readers will love the back and forth of this story and share a few laughs over the fact that Cinderella might not have been as innocent as she seemed to be. It's a cute way of re-writing the story from another point of view and adds a level of humor that young kids really enjoy and appreciate. Since it's such a short read, it's easy enough to get through and will help a child's literacy tremendously. The accompanying illustrations by Gerald Claude Guerlais only aid in the hilarity that is this unique storytelling and helps to paint the picture for readers.

Benefits
This book is a solo read and kids over the age of six should have little to no problem reading it on their own. There's minimal text with plenty of illustration, making for a fun, easy read.

What We Like About It
Aside from the fact that this is just a fun story overall, it makes Cinderella a modernized piece of literature, in a sense. Many kids who have no interest in reading the original story can get a kick out of reading this version of the story.
Pros

Funny and entertaining

Clever re-imagining

The illustrations are fun and playful

Minimal text to make for easy reading

The story itself is short

Cons

Readers thought the book lacked originality

7. Honestly, Little Red Riding Hood Was Rotten! (The Other Side of the Story)

7. Honestly, Little Red Riding Hood Was Rotten! (The Other Side of the Story)
We all loved reading Little Red Riding Hood as little kids, but now you can hear the story from another point of view. From the mouth of the big, bad wolf, that is!
Expand to see more
This is one short story that will definitely be appreciated by those who are fans of the original Little Red Riding Hood tale. In reality, we don't really know much about the wolf (unless you've watched the PG-13-rated movie that was based off it), therefore, this story could actually be very valid! It's a witty and clever way of viewing the original story from the point of the villain and gives a completely new impression of Little Red Riding Hood. Was she truly that innocent? Was she an annoying person to begin with? What she out to get this wold from the get-go? You'll never know unless you pick up this book! Kids will appreciate the humor and re-imagining of the characters that flips the story and creates something entirely new. Over a span of 24 pages, the author has managed to rewrite this story in such a way that makes it entertaining, thoughtful, and seriously funny. It's a great example of how every story has a separate point of view and will encourage kids to look at a situation from every side. Who knows, maybe the wolf really was the victim in the story!

Benefits
One lesson that comes out of this short story is to hear every side of a story before basing your final opinion. Everyone has a story to tell and it's books such as these that bring that notion to light.

What We Like About It
There aren't too many people who don't like the story of Little Red Riding Hood and this version adds a level of levity that many enjoy. It's perfect for young kids who enjoy hearing a new perspective on their favorite tale.
Pros

Hilariously funny

Offers a different point of view

Teaches kids that every story has multiple sides

Encourages kids to think outside the box

Easy to read

Cons

Some thought the story itself was a bit unusual

8. Classic Fairy Tales Vol. 1

8. Classic Fairy Tales Vol. 1
The illustrations are what make this book sing, as they're all done in an oil painting style. It's just as beautiful to look at as it is to read.
Expand to see more
There's not much more we can say about this book except for the fact that it is simply stunning. The illustrations have all been done in a classic oil-painting style that adds a level of unique creativity to the overall theme of the book. Inside, kids will find all of their favorite classics with the most perfect pictures to accompany them. In 2003, this book won the Chelsey Award for its illustrations and it's a book that would look incredible on anyone's bookshelf. Your child doesn't necessarily need to be a fan of fairy tales in order to appreciate this and because of that, there's really no true age limit for it. The pictures alone are enough to captivate a young audience and as your child gets older, they'll appreciate being able to read the stories themselves an relieve each one through its illustration.

Benefits
Readers were fans of the translation for each tale as its very close to how each one was originally written. That preserves the authenticity of these stories and bodes well for their popularity in the future.

What We Like About It
The oil painting-style art of this collection is what truly makes it a classic. Each story is brought to life through color, detail, and captivating artwork that simply can't be outdone.
Pros

The illustrations are gorgeous

The translation in on-point

Each story is well-known

Kids will enjoy following along with the pictures

Won the Chelsey Award for its artwork

Cons

Some people ran into problems with the digital editions of the book

9. Hans Christian Anderson's Complete Fairy Tales

9. Hans Christian Anderson's Complete Fairy Tales
For a lighter edition of fairy tales, Hans Christian Anderson provides levity and lighthearted stories. These are a fun way to go on a literary adventure for any age.
Expand to see more
Perhaps romanticism is more your child's genre of choice, in which case, Hans Christian Anderson is the man to go to. The Brothers Grimm weren't the only ones to pen children's stories in the early 1800s, and Anderson wrote many that are still very popular today. His stories are a bit more lighthearted and have an air of levity to them, and many that your child might be familiar with are The Ugly Duckling, The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, and The Emporer's New Clothes. Many of these have already been turned into animated movies but the original stories hold a sense of wonder and magic still to this day. Each of them has been created with a sense of adventure and truly captivates the reader during every journey as they follow the main characters through each narrative. While these stories aren't terribly long, they are incredibly entertaining and detailed. These would work well for older kids because the text isn't on a grade-school level, however, it would also be a great addition to any young child's bookshelf for when they are older. The book includes a forward that provides a detailed history of these stories and is interesting to read for those who are truly fans of Anderson's work.

Benefits
Your child will be holding a piece of history in their hands when they open this book. Each fairy tale has been passed down through the generations and contains imaginative scenarios filled with colorful characters that are truly brought to life on these pages.

What We Like About It
This is a great alternative for those who find Grimm's fairy tales to be a bit too dark, mature, or challenging to understand. These stories are age-appropriate for everyone and will do a great job of entertaining all readers.
Pros

The forward is informative and contains valuable content

It's an original collection of the works

Would make a great starter book for fairy tale-lovers

Perfect for bedtime

Each story is different and contains a new adventure

Cons

Can be hard for kids under the age of ten to read

10. Lift the Flap: Fairy Tales ( Can You Find Me?)

10. Lift the Flap: Fairy Tales ( Can You Find Me?)
This is a must-have for toddlers who love books and love listening to fairy tales even more. They'll be able to flip their way through the story without waiting for mom or dad to turn the next page.
Expand to see more
Last but not least is a book that truly caters to a younger demographic. Children between the ages of two and six will get plenty of joy out of this book which contains original fairy tales in a way that's easy to understand. It's a lift-the-flap book, which is similar to a pop-up book in the sense that each story has details that are hidden within it. It's up to the reader to figure out where they are and reveal the missing details in order to complete the story. The pictures in this book make it very easy to follow the storyline but it would be great during story time or as a fun bedtime reading. It encourages kids to be interactive with their reading and helps them to engage in it fully, which helps their focus and memory each and every time they turn the page. Additionally, the illustrations in this book are wholesome and vibrant, which will hold their attention and make reading fun. Throughout the eight stories that are in this book, kids will be delighted to feel as though they're revealing a bit more of each story as they go along. It's a fun way to introduce fairy tales and will become something that carries a high value as far as re-reading goes.

Benefits
A book such as this can help young readers use their imaginations that go far beyond just being read to. Books that encourage you to fill in a piece of the story help to push kids to think, which will help them to truly visualize the story in a new and inventive way.

What We Like About It
The illustrations are absolutely adorable! They've been perfectly designed in order to fit in with each story and every liftable flap is placed in such a way that it provides a challenge, but nothing too crazy.
Pros

Encourages readers to interact with the story

Promotes imagination

It's easy to read via the illustrations

Provides a fun way to flip through the pages

Kids will be engaged and interested

Cons

There's no true storyline like there would be in a normal book

Criteria Used in Evaluation of the Best Fairy Tale Books

There is a quote from the great Albert Einstein that goes, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” This is something that we wholeheartedly believe to be true, which is what brought us to the creation of this list. Fairy tales view no age as relevant, but we’ve tried to incorporate stories that were as easy to read for children age two as they are for kids age 16 and older. Adults can benefit from reading fairy tales as well, which is what makes their world of fiction so all-encompassing. The criteria we’ve used when discerning what to use on our list and what not consisted of finding the best translations and the most stunning illustrations to go with them. Since many people are already familiar with fairy tales, it fell to us to decide which books were really at the top of our list for your child’s bookshelf. It was quite obvious that the Brothers Grimm tales, as well as Hans Christian Anderson’s famous works, needed to be included, but we’ve also included individual stories that have been rewritten or re-worked in order to represent the story in a different light. Basically, we left no stone unturned and have provided only the best, based on what was deserving of holding a place in your child’s heart and in their hands.

Additional Factors to Consider: Literary Benefits of Fairy Tales

Since many of these stories have found their way around the globe, your child will be engaging in a high level of historical and cultural storytelling. This is a wonderful thing for a child because it allows them to view the world in a different way and exposes them to concepts and customs that they might not be familiar with. These fairy tales have a way of broadening horizons and encouraging kids to adapt their own explorative nature, which begins simply by turning the page. Additionally, the brilliance and creativity behind each one of these stories will help encourage them to read and read often. With so many tales to choose from, your child will have no limit to the stories they can read and if they find one to be boring or difficult, they can just choose another. Stories such as Aesop’s Fables help to teach life lessons in addition to their educational and literary benefits, which really makes them much more than just writing on paper.

Imagination and Creativity

There is no limit to what a child can imagine when they dive into one of these fairy tales. The brain is an amazing thing and can create images and visuals that are often unparalleled to what we can view in an illustration. While artwork helps tremendously, it’s your child’s own imagination that can transport them to a world that’s entirely unique and new to them. Fairy tales are beautiful in the sense that they pave the way for kids to be creative while they read and introduce new lands, character, and scenarios that make the reader feel as though they’ve just embarked on the greatest adventure.

Family Bonding

You’ve probably heard before that reading to your child is one of the greatest activities you can engage in, in order to strengthen your bond and create memories. As a parent, you can’t underestimate the power of a fairy tale, as simple as the story may seem. There’s a reason that these tales have lasted entire lifetimes and continue to grow in popularity today, and that’s because when we read them, we’re all embarking on a literary adventure. This is your chance to engage with your child and create something beautiful that will be a lasting memory for them; after all, it’s not every day that you get to explore a magical wood or a majestic castle with them!

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Would these books be appropriate to bring to school?

A: Of course! You’ll find that many of these fairy tale books and fables are actually found in your child’s classroom already, as they’re part of many common reading lists.

Q: Which of these would be good for a toddler as a starter book?

A: We’d recommend the lift-the-flap book, simply because your toddler will be interested and engaged in the story. It will give them something to do while they explore all eight stories.

Q: Is there any language that I should be aware of when reading this to my child?

A: Some of the Grimms fairy tales do contain situations and wording that can either be confusing and/or a bit mature for kids under the age of ten. While it is only a story, if this is something you’re worried about, it’s good to read the story yourself beforehand. Keep in mind that these stories have been translated and mark a point in time where censorship was not common and children took stories for what they were – Just pretend.

Q: Would a child be able to understand these just by looking at the illustrations?

A: While we have included several books that rely heavily on the illustration to get the point across, it’s always helpful to read along with the story. Children of all ages will thoroughly enjoy flipping through these for the pictures, though, as nearly every book on this list contains fantastic artwork.

Q: How hard are these to understand?

A: Depending on your child’s reading level, they’re all relatively simple to comprehend. These stories were written for children, after all!

Q: Are the complete collection books terribly heavy?

A: They’re certainly not light, and the heaviest would probably be the Brothers Grimm Complete Collection – At over 600 pages, it’s a doozy, but with its leather-bound exterior, it’s a stunning addition to any collection.

Sources

  1. Saoirse Docherty, 5 Reasons why fairy tales are good for children, Online Article, Jun 05, 2014
  2. Unknown Author, What we can all learn from reading fairy tales, Online Article, Jun 29, 2018
  3. Little Pickle Stories, The Benefits of Reading Fairy Tales to Your Child, Online Article, Sep 15, 2013
  4. Unknown Author, Why Fairy Tales Should Be Part of Every Growing Kid’s Childhood, Online Article,
  5. Sheila Kohler, On the Importance of Fairy Tales, Online Article, Jun 06, 2014