As the mom of boys, I quickly discovered pink princesses weren’t going to cut it. And honestly, as a mom, I wanted something with more flair. So we went on a search for multicultural fairy tales that would give a broader and different look at the world of fairy tales to keep us all entertained.
In addition to offering a reading list of multicultural fairy tales, I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to offer you homeschool and in-class learning fairy tale unit study resources. You can find these multicultural fairy tale books for kids at your local library or use the affiliate links provided for your convenience.
Multicultural Fairy Tales
Adelita: Hace mucho tiempo—a long time ago—there lived a beautiful young woman named Adelita. So begins the age-old tale of a kindhearted young woman, her jealous stepmother, two hateful stepsisters, and a young man in search of a wife. The young man, Javier, falls madly in love with beautiful Adelita, but she disappears from his fiesta at midnight, leaving him with only one clue to her hidden identity: a beautiful rebozo—shawl. With the rebozo in place of a glass slipper, this favorite fairy tale takes a delightful twist. Tomie dePaola’s exquisite paintings, filled with the folk art of Mexico, make this a Cinderella story like no other.
The Egyptian Cinderella: This Egyptian spin on the classic Cinderella tale was initially recorded in the first century by a Roman historian. Poor Rhodopis! She has nothing—no mother or father, and no friends. She is a slave, from the far-off country of Greece. Only the beautiful rose-red slippers her master gives her can make Rhodopis smile. So when a falcon swoops down and snatches one of the slippers away, Rhodopis is heartbroken. For how is she to know that the slipper will land in the lap of the great Pharaoh himself? And who would ever guess that the Pharaoh has promised to find the slipper’s owner and make her queen of all Egypt?
The Princess and the Pea: Determined to find the perfect princess to call his own, an African prince gives all his suitors a special test to see if they are as noble as they say, yet after so many fail the test, the prince falls into despair–until one night a knock on the palace gate introduces him to a woman that will forever change his life.
Rapunzel (Once Upon a World): The classic tale of Rapunzel gets a fresh twist in this third book of a brand-new board book series, Once Upon a World. With India as the backdrop, and vibrant artwork from illustrator Archana Sreenivasan, Rapunzel is still the same girl who lets down her beautiful hair—but she’s totally reimagined. Once Upon a World offers a multicultural take on the fairy tales we all know and love. Because these tales are for everyone, everywhere.
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China: Caldecott Medal Winner. The now-classic Chinese retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and one of the most celebrated picture books of our time.
Brothers of the Knight: This modern, hip retelling of the classic tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses bursts with vibrant artwork and text that’s as energetic as the twelve toe-tapping Knight brothers themselves. Reverend Knight can’t understand why his twelve sons’ sneakers are torn to threads each and every morning, and the boys aren’t talking. They know their all-night dancing wouldn’t fit with their father’s image in the community. Maybe Sunday, a pretty new nanny with a knack for getting to the bottom of household mysteries, can crack the case.
La Princesa and the Pea: Children will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru. El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree. The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too.
The Ghanaian Goldilocks: Set in Accra, Ghana, The Ghanaian Goldilocks is a modern twist on the classic Goldilocks fairytale. Like traditional kente cloth, West African culture and themes are woven seamlessly into the story of a boy with sun lightened hair named Kofi, better known to his friends and family as Goldilocks. Like the Goldilocks in the traditional tale, Kofi has been known to get into some trouble here and there, but it’s an unexpected visit to a neighbor’s house that teaches him a valuable lesson of a lifetime.
Hansel and Gretel: Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora gives readers a stunning new interpretation of this classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, setting the infamous witch’s cottage deep in a lush African forest. Hansel and Gretel’s plight feels all the more threatening as they’re plunged into the thick, dark jungle of Isadora’s rich collages.
Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion: Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion is a fractured fairy tale version of Little Red Riding Hood. It’s a classic fairy tale with a safari twist! Little Red is on her way to visit Auntie Rosie with a basket of goodies and some spot medicine. Along the way she meets the Very Hungry Lion. The Lion is eager to gobble up Little Red. The Lion’s plan doesn’t work out the way he wanted.
The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes: Ming Da is only nine years old when he becomes the emperor of China, and his three advisors take advantage of him by stealing his stores of rice, gold, and precious stones. But Ming Da has a plan. With the help of his tailors, he comes up with a clever idea to outsmart his devious advisors: He asks his tailors to make “magical” new clothes for him. Anyone who is honest, the young emperor explains, will see the clothes’ true splendor, but anyone who is dishonest will see only burlap sacks. The emperor dons a burlap sack, and the ministers can’t help but fall for his cunning trick.
The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece: Children will love this fanciful folk retelling of the Cinderella story, accompanied by luminous watercolor illustrations by Giselle Potter. Once upon a time in Greece, fate left a young girl an orphan. Her stepmother was so hateful that she counted every drop of water the orphan drank! But with the help of Nature’s blessings, the orphan was showered with gifts: brilliance from the Sun, beauty from the Moon, gracefulness from the Dawn—and even a tiny pair of blue shoes from the Sea. When the prince comes to visit their village, he only has eyes for the mysterious beauty.
Like these multicultural fairy tales? Find even more engaging book lists for kids with more than 100 book-themed reading lists!
FAIRY TALES UNIT STUDY
In addition to offering a reading list of fairy tale books from other cultures, I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to offer you homeschool and in-class learning fairy tales unit study resources. Some of these resources may contain affiliate links.