Go to the Source: The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales
In 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm had more in mind than being a source for Disney animated film classics. They wanted to preserve in print the oral tradition of German fairy tales that they had been treated to in their youth.
They learned a few things.
Firstly, many of the fairy tales they'd heard turned out to have roots that were not German. Oh well!
Secondly, though their printed fairy tales were wildly popular, there were some criticisms. So over the course of seven editions of the tales, things were changed.
Some of the Grimm's fairy tales had sexual content and inappropriate violence removed over time. Rapunzel became pregnant during the course of her original fairy tale! Too many of the other tales ended with dead children.
(Interestingly though, the violence dealt out to the fairy tales' villains actually increased.)
Of course, Walt Disney made further "improvements" to much of the Grimms's efforts. It is part of the magic of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales that their classic themes lend themselves so well to artistic reimagining.
In fact, I can think of nothing more interesting for a child than to be exposed to translations of the Grimms's work so that they can compare for themselves the Grimms' versions to the versions they've seen on stage and screen.
(It can be interesting for adults, too, to see the changes that have been made. See how so many of the Disney Princesses got their start!)
Given that the Grimms wrote seven different editions and that multiple translators have rendered the book in English, it's possible to find many different versions (and even titles) for the various Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
The translations you'll read here are either by Margaret Hunt (Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm, pub'd 1884) or Edgar Taylor and Marian Edwardes (Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm, pub'd 1876).
(Why are the translations so old? Because that puts them in the public domain, i.e. their copyright has expired, so I can reproduce them for you here.)
By the final edition, the Brothers Grimm had put in print some 200 fairy tales. I provide the links to the ones that seem to remain most popular (or perhaps most relevant) today.
I am not screening for appropriateness. I leave that to you, the grown up, to do, using your own family's standards. Remember, the Grimms wrote in a day when life was significantly more precarious, and thus the fairy tales can seem a bit darker than much children's reading material today.
In fact, some Brothers Grimm fairy tales can seem quite...grim! I think you'll find them quite delightful and educational to read nonetheless. Enjoy!
Complete text Grimm fairy tales
And here are some of the modern picture books based on Brothers Grimm fairy tales that we review on this site:
Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.