Britain’s favourite Fairy Tales

Girls follow in glass-slippered footsteps of mums in favourite Fairy Tales choices… Both mums’ and daughters’ favourite Fairy Tale named as Cinderella while dads’ and sons’ favourite is Jack and the Beanstalk.

bookstart ugly duckling cover booklet 2013

A recent survey of over 1,000 people conducted by Opinium on behalf of independent reading and writing charity Booktrust found that both children and parents show a traditional gender divide when choosing their favourite fairy tales. When asked to name their own favourite fairy tale, 32% of mums chose Cinderella and 30% of dads chose Jack and the Beanstalk. When asked to name their children’s favourites, the same tales came out top for their sons and daughters. 34% of those with daughters named Cinderella and 27% of parents with sons named Jack and the Beanstalk as the favourite.

When asked about favourite characters, girls were also more likely to choose female characters, with four out of the top five choices being female. Boys were more likely to include ‘villains’ in their favourites, with the Troll from Three Billy Goats Gruff, the Big Bad Wolf from the Three Little Pigs and the wolf from Red Riding Hood all featuring in their top ten favourite characters. The Ugly Stepsisters were the least popular overall.

The survey also found that 3 in 10 parents choose not to read fairy tales at all with their children. When prompted for a reason, 51% of these parents said their child was too old, 23% said their child was too young, and 17% said their child simply didn’t like fairy tales. Of those parents who said their child was too old for fairy tales, their children were mainly aged seven and older. Of those parents who said their child didn’t like fairy tales, they were overwhelmingly more likely to be referring to a son than a daughter.

The figures were released at the opening of National Bookstart Week, during which children up and down the country were invited to take part in fairy tale themed activities in their local libraries, children’s centres and bookshops.

This year, half a million free specially commissioned Ugly Duckling booklets, illustrated by Masumi Furukawa and published by Child’s Play (International) Ltd, were given to families at events to encourage mums, dads and carers to read with their children every day. Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh has also recorded an audio version of the tale for Booktrust.

Favourite fairy tales:

The top five fairy tales for parents:

1. Goldilocks and the Three Bears 24%

2. Cinderella 24%

3. The Three Little Pigs 24%

4. Jack and the Beanstalk 23%

5. Snow White 21%

child books reading storytelling

The top five fairy tales for children:

1. The Three Little Pigs 22%

2. Jack and the Beanstalk 20%

3. Cinderella 19%

4. Goldilocks and the Three Bears 18%

5. Snow White 16%

The top five fairy tales for mums:

1. Cinderella 32%

2. Goldilocks and the Three Bears 26%

3. Snow White 25%

4. The Three Little Pigs 23%

5. Beauty and the Beast 18%

The top five fairy tales for girls:

1. Cinderella 34%

2. Snow White 27%

3. Goldilocks and the Three Bears 20%

4. The Three Little Pigs 17%

5. Rapunzel 17%

The top five fairy tales for dads:

1. Jack and the Beanstalk 30%

2. The Three Little Pigs 25%

3. Goldilocks and the Three Bears 22%

4. Snow White 16%

5. Cinderella 15%

The top five fairy tales for boys:

1. Jack and the Beanstalk 27%

2. The Three Little Pigs 26%

3. The Gingerbread Man 17%

4. Goldilocks and the Three Bears 16%

5. Pinocchio 11%

Favourite fairy tale characters:

The top ten fairy tale characters for children:

1. Cinderella 23%

2. Puss in Boots 15%

3. Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk) 14%

4. The gingerbread man 13%

5. The three bears 12%

6. Goldilocks 10%

7. Little Red Riding Hood 9%

8. The big bad wolf (Three Little Pigs) 9%

9. Fairy godmother (Cinderella) 6%

10. Hansel and Gretel 6%

The top ten fairy tale characters for girls:

1. Cinderella 44%

2. Goldilocks 14%

3. Puss in Boots 12%

4. Little Red Riding Hood 12%

5. Fairy godmother (Cinderella) 12%

6. The three bears 11%

7. The gingerbread man 9%

8. Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk) 6%

9. The big bad wolf (Three Little Pigs) 6%

10. The Beast (Beauty and the Beast) 6%

The top ten fairy tale characters for boys:

1. Jack (Jack and the Beanstalk) 21%

2. Puss in Boots 18%

3. The gingerbread man 16%

4. The three bears 13%

5. The big bad wolf (Three Little Pigs) 12%

6. Hansel and Gretel 8%

7. Rumpelstiltskin 8%

8. The troll (Three Billy Goats Gruff) 8%

9. Little Red Riding Hood 7%

10. The wolf (Little Red Riding Hood) 7%

Do you read fairy tales with or to your child?

Yes 70%

No 30%

Routed question (n=699): You mentioned previously that you read fairy tales with or to your child. For which, if any, of the following reasons do you read fairy tales to your child?

They help with children’s reading skills/literacy 64%

They are fun and make children laugh 60%

It is part of our daily reading routine 48%

They help children come up with their own stories 45%

They carry on traditions 43%

They teach children important lessons about life 36%

They are a break from the real world 36%

They help children understand other stories 33%

Other 2%

None of these 1%

Routed question (n=302): You mentioned previously that you do not read fairy tales with or to your child. For which, if any, of the following reason don’t you read fairy tales to your child?

My child is too old for this 51%

My child is too young for this 23%

My child doesn’t like fairy tales 17%

I hadn’t thought about doing this 7%

Fairy tales are old fashioned 6%

I don’t have time for this 3%

Fairy tales are too scary 3%

Fairy tales are too boring 3%

Other 6%

None of these 4%

For those answering ‘My child is too old for this’ (n=155), age breakdown was as follows:

8 yrs old 11%

9 yrs old 14%

10 yrs old 29%

11 yrs old 37%

N.B: of the 155 parents who selected ‘my child is too old for this’, 97% have children aged 7-11

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