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Fairy tales with competent women for a preschooler


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#1 Pintosrock

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 02:42 PM

I hate the clean/Disney versions for their portrayal of women. The original Anderson/Grimm versions are too grisly for my preschooler. I like Tatterhood, but it's just a collection of short stories. In a perfect world, I'd like a mix of text and pictures. Have you seen anything like that?

#2 Ravin

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 03:28 PM

Just tell your own versions.



#3 desertflower

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:37 PM

When my dd was that age she tagged along with big brother. I've never heard of Tatterhood.

So, my dd listened to the Wizard of Oz, Charlotte's Web, and the Secret Garden. I'm guessing you want something that has leading strong girls in them.

#4 desertflower

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 07:38 PM

I'm reading Heidi to her now.

#5 desertflower

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 11:35 PM

So, not fairy tales but there is the first little house series. Big illustrations.

#6 Alessandra

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 12:30 AM

OP, I completely agree about Disney versions. We read fairy tales constantly, from preschool on up. This is what we did.

Core Knowledge's Books to Build On (most libraries have it). It has recommendations for specific editions, excellent choices. They also include multicultural suggestions, for example Cinderella type stories from China, Africa, Native Americans.

I also spent time in my public library and many other branches in the library system, specifically looking for nicely written, beautifully illustrated fairy tales. I then bought the ones I liked most, often buying used books, because the editions currently in print are not always the best editions. I prefer separate books, with a variety of illustration styles. We probably have five shelves of fairy tales from all over the world.

That said, our favorite one volume collections are
Random House Book of Fairy Tales
Random House Book of Nursery Stories
I think these are out of print, but well worth having. There is a great Mother Goose in this series too.

It is also fun to get different versions of the same story. For example, comparing versions of Three Little Pigs is a good thinking exercise for little kids.

We started with nursery tales, like Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Chicken Little, and so on. Oops, no competent women, lol, but no Disnification either.

As for Grimm, there is no one 'original' edition. The Grimm Brothers did a lot of rewriting over decades, so there are multiple versions of several tales. Also, many of the tales were taken from existing folklore, so are not original to the Grimms. Personally, I chose whatever text -- Grimm or a rewriting -- would appeal most to my kids.

Andersen is a different matter. He wrote his own tales, using lyrical language that can disappear in some translations. So I always try to read a version that is as close to the original as possible. Core Knowlege does not suggest Andersen until second grade, iirc.

Another suggestion -- check out Jim Weiss, Greathall, for wonderful audio retellings. He simplifies, but sensitively. His voice changes for different characters in a way that never ceased to amaze my children. We had hours and hours of enjoyment from these. I think his website arranges recordings by recommended age, very helpful.

Edited by Alessandra, 18 July 2017 - 06:45 AM.

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#7 111

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 11:52 AM

 


Edited by 111, 24 August 2017 - 09:40 PM.


#8 Tanaqui

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 12:09 PM

Neither Moana nor Merida are characters in traditional fairy tales.



#9 Pintosrock

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 02:04 PM

My Disney fairy tale book includes Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. My edition was published in 1974 (it was mine) and does not include any of the modern Disney princess stories. All include some line where the princess's main goal in life is to marry a prince. I want other goals for my daughter.

I haven't read any modern Disney stories. If they have created stories with strong, independent women then I would not be opposed to them.

#10 regentrude

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 02:08 PM

Gretel in Haensel and Gretel is the only one who comes to mind.

 

I can't think of any other competent female  fairy tale characters.

Typically, the females require assistance and rescue from males (often princes) or magical creatures (fairies). Even in the more child appropriate Grimm versions. There are nice retellings, but they don't make Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty etc competent women with agency.


Edited by regentrude, 15 August 2017 - 02:16 PM.


#11 Tanaqui

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 05:29 PM

I can think of a few that don't require saving from princes.

 

Vasilisa the Beautiful does get saved by the spirit of her mother in the form of a magic doll, but she's the one who braves Baba Yaga's house. Her mother's already dead, she's got nothing to worry about.

 

In Six Swans, the girl saves her brothers. (Of course, she also gets "married" and impregnated while unable to speak or look up from her creepy nettle weaving, so... maybe not.)

 

In Katie Crackernuts, the two stepsisters are steadfast in their loyalty to each other, despite the jealous stepmother trying to drive them apart. Kate saves the prince, saves her sister, and gets everybody happily married off.

 

In Maid Maleen, the heroine first saves herself from the tower, and then finds her betrothed.

 

There are a lot like that. They're just not as well known, and I don't know why.


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#12 111

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 08:30 PM

 


Edited by 111, 24 August 2017 - 09:40 PM.


#13 Tanaqui

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 08:53 PM

But since we are apparently discussing traditional fairy tales, I suppose there is nothing traditional about a woman putting her foot down and standing up for herself in a fairy tale eh? Get what I am saying?

 

That's not true. I listed quite a few fairy tales in which women do just that, and I no doubt could find more if I put some effort into it.

 

But you do you - My kids don't watch this stuff at all. I have just happened to notice a difference myself in the last few years.

 

Your kids don't watch Disney but you do? I feel you. I used to have to pay the girls to go with me to the movies, because I didn't want to be the only unaccompanied adult!

 



#14 111

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:30 PM

 


Edited by 111, 24 August 2017 - 09:40 PM.


#15 Renai

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 12:49 AM

The Snow Queen? The girl saves her male friend. But, I don't think that is preschool level.


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#16 Tanaqui

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 12:56 AM

lol okay w/e. My argument was against disney offering nothing moreso than the idea of traditional fairy tales, you keep ignoring that.

 

I was replying to the statement I quoted. I don't think anybody on this thread said that Disney has never made anything with competent female main characters. You don't need to argue against that, because nobody is arguing for it.

 



#17 J-rap

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 04:56 AM

We have an old series of My Bookhouse books, but I'm pretty sure they are still publishing them.  They have lots of old fairytales in them from many countries.  So many, that you can pick and choose.  There are many with very positive portrayals of girls.


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#18 111

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 09:13 AM

.


Edited by 111, 24 August 2017 - 09:38 PM.
Don't start a fight, please.


#19 EKS

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:16 AM

Just another take on the fairy tale thing...

 

I didn't expose my children to traditional fairy tales because I thought they were high quality literature or that someone might want to emulate the characters.  We read them because literate people in our society should be familiar with them--just as they should be familiar with Greek mythology, Bible stories, and Moby Dick.


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#20 Tanaqui

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:26 AM

We read them because literate people in our society should be familiar with them--just as they should be familiar with Greek mythology, Bible stories, and Moby Dick.

 

And also pop culture. I read an article just the other day that said in the sub-headline that a certain treatment "turned Pinky into the Brain". If you never saw Animaniacs, you wouldn't get it.

(Though nothing beats the headline earlier this year "Go West, Young Tree".)

 


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#21 EKS

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:41 AM

And also pop culture. I read an article just the other day that said in the sub-headline that a certain treatment "turned Pinky into the Brain". If you never saw Animaniacs, you wouldn't get it.

(Though nothing beats the headline earlier this year "Go West, Young Tree".)

 

This is a good point.  I remember during the height of our homeschooling days, I consciously allowed my children to experience pop culture--so certain TV shows and video games were allowed that I thought were pretty terrible--because I knew they weren't getting it in school.



#22 MerryAtHope

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:44 AM

I love fairy tales--the older, unsanitized versions especially! I have a thick book of Grimm and Anderson's Fairy Tales that's over 60 years old (mine from childhood, passed down from my mom). I read it to my kids when they were about 8 and 10 or maybe 9 and 11. They lovingly referred to that as "The Bloody Book," LOL! Really good stuff, though probably not something I would read regularly to a preschooler. (On the other hand, I had shorter books of fairy tales that my dad used to read to me--the kind with beautiful, large artwork interspersed. I remember Jack the Giant Killer and Bluebeard were favorites, and those are bloody too. My mom wouldn't read them to me, but I have very fond memories of how animated my dad was as he read them.)

 


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#23 EKT

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 11:03 AM

Just another take on the fairy tale thing...

 

I didn't expose my children to traditional fairy tales because I thought they were high quality literature or that someone might want to emulate the characters.  We read them because literate people in our society should be familiar with them--just as they should be familiar with Greek mythology, Bible stories, and Moby Dick.

 

I agree with this! My husband and I are card-carrying feminists raising two daughters, and as a general rule, we absolutely look for strong female characters in the literature we read and the movies we watch, etc. But I don't think every single story we read needs to perfectly check all my feminist boxes. There's value to reading these classic stories, as EKS says here, simply for their cultural relevance/importance. And any flaws I perceive in the narratives simply serve as great springboards for conversation/critique with my kids (at a level they can understand, obviously).

 

Put another way, last year, we read all of the Little House books. Now, there is a lot of racism in those books! But it would be ridiculous, in my opinion, to reject Wilder's entire series because of the racist scenes; instead, my family used these scenes to frame discussions about how terrible racism is/the views many people held in Laura's time/how we're still trying to fights these viewpoints in our own time, etc., etc. 

 

I recently taught a co-op class called "Cinderella Around the World" - we read (and critiqued) the version of the story our own culture is most familiar with (Charles Perrault's 1697 version), but then, each week, we read several different versions of Cinderella from all around the world. (There are over 500 known versions of the story!) It was fascinating because the fairytales really reveal what each different culture values. (For instance, one version set in Poland, called Raisel's Riddle, values Raisel's intelligence above all else--not her beauty, as in our version.) After we read the various versions, we went on to read modern "fractured fairytale" versions of Cinderella that turn the story on its head (feminist retellings, versions in which Cinderella is a boy, etc.). I think all that was a more nuanced way of dealing with/exploring a story that has endured for hundreds of years in our culture, rather than just rejecting it wholesale, as if it doesn't matter. 

 

Since your child is just a preschooler and you're not ready to share the original Grimm's, there are lots of versions that are more age-appropriate! We have this version of the Grimm's fairy tales, and it's gorgeous! The illustrations are lovely; I think it would be great for a younger child, but YMMV. 

 

 

ETA: Speaking of feminism and fairy tales and preschoolers, you might enjoy Peggy Orenstein's Cinderella Ate My Daughter. It explores all this sort of stuff! Great read. 


Edited by EKT, 16 August 2017 - 11:14 AM.

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#24 gardenmom5

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 06:56 PM

lol okay w/e. My argument was against disney offering nothing moreso than the idea of traditional fairy tales, you keep ignoring that.

 

further, no, I do not watch them, I see bits and pieces here and there because for a while each film - including frozen - was playing in clips all over and without trying I have seen most of all the new disney movies.

 

And no, my children do not watch it because it is not biblical. I do not encourage fiction stories based on magic and castles and etc... When Disney produces an accurate non-cartoon version of a Biblical book that passes my extremely critical opinion I will consider it, and likely denounce that as well because I am deeply convicted about this kind of stuff for my life and children. Likely, if a remake was that good, I would say just pick up your bible and read the book. You will get it.

 

Hopefully this makes my stance a little clearer.

 

does that include Narnia?   CS Lewis was a well-known devout Christian writer.   lots of magic, and castles . . . and talking animals, and witches . . . 



#25 Tanaqui

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 07:35 PM

And his writing is explicitly Christian allegory.



#26 xahm

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:22 PM

First time I've ever heard that we Christians are supposed to avoid stories about castles. I've heard the magic stuff a lot, but castles... new to me.

#27 111

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 04:10 PM

 


Edited by 111, 24 August 2017 - 09:39 PM.


#28 Mommyof1

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Posted 18 August 2017 - 04:49 PM

I enjoy C.S.Lewis work. When my child is old enough to enjoy it she will have access to it.

We love to read here and we do a lot of older nursery rhymes, fables, tall tales and fairy tales, etc. We do find newer things we enjoy too.
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#29 fralala

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 06:35 AM

nm 

 


Edited by Susan Wise Bauer, 22 August 2017 - 02:42 AM.
That was nasty. Knock it off.

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#30 Tanaqui

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 07:53 PM

nm 


Edited by Susan Wise Bauer, 22 August 2017 - 02:46 AM.
Don't escalate...

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#31 111

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Posted 20 August 2017 - 09:28 PM

.


Edited by 111, 24 August 2017 - 09:41 PM.
Don't respond with name-calling.


#32 desertflower

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 02:30 AM

Putting on mod hat.

Keep it civil please. Thanks.

#33 dirty ethel rackham

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 07:18 PM

Not a traditional fairy tale, but a princess story with a positive, pro-feminist slant ... The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.  It is really funny and turns the whole "damsel in distress" theme on its head. 


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#34 regentrude

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 07:40 PM

Yes it does include Narnia. No fiction.

 

No fiction?  So, you will not teach literature? Because, most of the Great Books are fiction.


Edited by regentrude, 21 August 2017 - 07:41 PM.

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#35 madteaparty

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 08:26 PM

Just another take on the fairy tale thing...

I didn't expose my children to traditional fairy tales because I thought they were high quality literature or that someone might want to emulate the characters. We read them because literate people in our society should be familiar with them--just as they should be familiar with Greek mythology, Bible stories, and Moby Dick.

This.
I guess in Pinocchio the fairy keeps trying to save him from himself, but she is not a main character and it's not preschool level. Neither is Sheherazade, I would guess 😂.
It's not a fairy tale but I love Miss Rumphius for that age.

#36 desertflower

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 09:59 AM

Let's stay on topic please.

Thank you.

#37 Mommyof1

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 11:03 AM

I just read Snow White and Cinderella to my daughter. They were different them I remember, a little darker but there was a lesson in the story.

Edited by Mommyof1, 22 August 2017 - 11:25 AM.


#38 desertflower

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 01:27 PM

I'm sorry Pintosrock that some of these posts are not in answer to your question.

 

 



#39 abibechard

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 09:12 PM

I've been thinking about this question for over a week and just realized I DO know some princess stories that aren't your typical "my life exists to find a boy"

Tale of Despereaux has a princess and it's one of my favorite books. Full of good character studies.

The Princess and the Goblin. There is a boy but it's very much an equal footing friendship.

Light Princess is a fascinating little book about a princess who floats. There is a prince but still good. She is very much a character in of her own self.

I second Paperbag Princess as well.

Also maybe look up some stories about REAL princesses throughout history. I would be interested if there is a book on that.

#40 JIN MOUSA

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 12:50 AM

This list has decidedly modern re-tellings of classic fairy tales, with at least a few picture books in there.

 

http://www.amightygi...om/blog?p=10472



#41 Mommyof1

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 01:14 AM

No I don't know ow any fairytale's with strong female leads.

To me fairytale were used to teach a lesson to kids. That's how I always saw it. YMMV.

There are really good classic lit. stories with good strong females, though. Like some named above.

#42 Lori D.

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 01:07 AM

Fairytales almost always are short stories, and are usually published in collections, so not sure I can help you find a longer work if that is what you are looking for...??

 

There are some wonderful traditional fairy tales in which it is the female protagonist who rights the wrongs, goes on the quest, or saves the day through perseverance and virtue:

- Beauty and the Beast  (French tale)

- East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Norweigan tale)

- Tatterhood (Norweigan tale)

- Vasilissa the Beautiful (Russian tale) -- heroine vs. Baba Yaga!

- The Snow Queen (Hans Christian Anderson)

- Sim Chung and the River Dragon (Korean tale)

- Li Chi Slays the Serpent (Chinese tale)

 

You might look for picture books of some of these tales if you want a whole book with illustrations. Examples:

- Beauty and the Beast (Mercer Meyer) or (Kinuko Craft)

- East of the Sun, West of the Moon (Mercer Meyer) or (Jackie Morris)

- Vasilisa the Beautiful (Afanasyev and Bilibin)

Sim Chung and the River Dragon (Schecter)

 

These are for elementary ages, but The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kay) is a lovely twist on the traditional fairy story of a competent female character, and George MacDonald's original fairy stories often have wise, strong female protagonists or secondary characters who provide guidance:

- The Golden Key

- The Wise Woman

- The Princess and the Goblins -- the grandmother character

 

I'm not familiar with most of the stories in these collections, but they may be of interest for late elementary-aged children:

Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World (Ragan) 

Not One Damsel in Distress: World Folktales for Strong Girls (Yolen)

The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women (Tchana) -- featured is the story of Li Chi


Edited by Lori D., 27 August 2017 - 01:19 AM.

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#43 shawthorne44

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Posted 27 August 2017 - 08:13 AM

One out-there idea, maybe read her the real fairy-tale whichever version you like.  Then read the WhateverAfter book series version.  The idea of the series is that a brother and sister go through a magic mirror in their basement into a fairytale, and then mess it up (usually on accident) and then there is a new different happy ending.   For example, Snow White doesn't eat the apple because of the kids, then Snow White rescues the prince from a dungeon.   Cinderella doesn't marry the airhead prince and instead happily opens a bakery.   Also, the brother and sister are kind to each other.   



#44 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 12:53 PM

I've always liked Snow White and Rose Red. Single mom lives in the woods with her two daughters who adore each other and who very sweetly get the best of a mosogynistic mythical character...and they aren't afraid to make friends with bears. Eventually they marry well, which is nice, but I always had the sense that they could have just as happily lived together in the woods forever without a man.

#45 rainbowmama

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 03:21 PM

I'd recommend O'Sullivan's stew, Amy Ehlrich's (not sure of the spelling) Wild Swans, Fioona's luck, Her Stories (a collection of African American folk tales), Strega Nona, and Finn McCool (might be a different spelling) and His Fearless Wife



#46 okbud

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 04:32 PM

I think most fairy tales in the original aren't the best for preschool BUT there is a curriculum plan for 7 and up that's all about competent women!

http://homeschoollif...s-and-daughters