Find out why I think fairy tales should be required reading for kids here.
I’ve organized the lists into two sections:
Big List of Wonderful Fairy Tales Books for Children
The Princess and the Giant by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Sarah Warburton
The princess Sophie lives next to a magic beanstalk with a VERY noisy giant who is so loud he keeps Sophie awake all night. So, brave Sophie determines to figure out giants and how to help the giant and fix the problem. Sophie’s a great problem solver and befriends the lonely giant!
LillyBelle: A Damsel NOT in Distress by Joana Pastro, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz
Get ready for your new favorite updated fairy tale trope about a perfectly capable damsel who is NOT EVER in distress when she gets captured by a witch, a giant, and an ogre. She befriends them all and excuses herself for her school’s daily, delicious, delightful tea party. Back at school, her damsel-in-distress teacher doesn’t believe she could rescue herself…until LillyBelle’s new friends arrive, hoping to join the tea party. And they all have a marvelous time!
B.Bear and Lolly Catch That Cookie! by A.A. Livingston, illustrated by Joey Chou
Best friends, B. Bear and Lolly, are having trouble with their Porridge Perfector invention when the Gingerbread Man-made things worse by tipping it over and running away. So Lolly and B. Bear decide to catch the Gingerbread Man themselves. I love this charming adventure.
Very Little Cinderella by Heapy & Heap
Little Cinderella is a cutie pie who speaks in baby talk and throws tantrums. Her fairy godmother helps her get dressed for the dance. This little Cinderella wears her favorite blue dress and yellow boots (“yello”) and goes on her big blue scooter. A charming new telling of this familiar fairy tale!
Red by Jed Alexander
In a wordless picture book, this little Red travels through a forest on the way to her grandmother’s house. As she does, you’ll see animals carrying gifts. Can you predict why? It’s a party at her grandmother’s house! With a friendly big bad wolf. Gorgeous illustrations.
Cinderella’s Stepsister and the Big Bad Wolf by Lorraine Carey, illustrated by Migy Blanco
In this wonderfully illustrated story, Cinderella Ugly is just as bad as her step-sister Ugly except for the littlest one, Gertie. The Ugly family sends Gertie to the Wicked Queen, the Worst Witch, and the Big Bad Wolf to learn how to be bad. It doesn’t work. And, in another surprise twist, you’ll never guess who goes to the ball with Gertie!!
Once Upon a Gorjuss Time Six Classic Tales to Dream By by Santoro
Beautiful illustrations and evocative descriptions capture the original classic fairy tale stories, each Gorjuss shares with us: Little Red, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Alice, Thumbelina, and Rapunzel. She comments before each story and reflects after each. Here’s what she says after The Little Mermaid: “Sorry and pain are truly horrible, but they reveal depths inside us that we might not have seen before . . the little mermaid has shown a strength that is boundless.” I LOVE this book! It gives these familiar stories a fresh new spark.
The Red Prince by Charlie Roscoe, illustrate by Tom Clohosy Cole
It might be a stretch to call this a fairy tale but it’s a wonderful adventure story with a king and queen so . . . The kingdom is invaded and the red-pajama-clad prince kidnapped. But, he escapes and the wonderful citizens of his country help him evade the kidnappers, even dressing in red pajamas to camouflage him. A wonderful story about the kindness of other humans.
Who’s the Grossest of Them All? Which Fairy-Tale Character Will Win? by Susan McElroy Montanari, illustrated by Jake Parker
Goblin sets off through the forest so others can fully appreciate his horribleness. But when he comes to Troll’s bridge, Troll insists that HE is the most horrible creature in the forest. They decide to ask someone else to judge and ask several villagers including Little Red Riding Hood. Who, as it turns out, is grosser than either Goblin or Troll. (Because boogers–eew!)
Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly by Scott Nash
This book includes Hamlet, Don Quixote, Frankenstein, and A Thousand and One Nights. Each story has been shortened into a poem and paired with bright illustrations. It’s a quick and simple introduction to each hopefully, that will prompt further interest in the original stories later on.
How to Be a Hero by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Chuck Groenink
Once upon a time, a boy named Gideon wants to be a hero. He uses the fairy tales he knows to figure out how and determines that it’s all about being at the right place at the right time. So he pays attention. Or at least he thinks he does. We, the readers, can tell from the illustrations that Gideon is missing a great adventure. Or is he? 🙂
Where’s the Princess? And Other Fairy Tale Searches by Chuck Whelon
Start with Little Red Riding hood and continue on to Pinocchio, each two-page spread asks you to search and find fairy tale items in the cheerful illustrations. These were always a hit with my kids when they were younger.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Jan Brett
Epic, intricate, beautiful illustrations with Brett’s classic borders give this retelling a Russian folk-tale feeling.
Fairy Felicity’s Moonlight Adventure by Alison Murray
Sweet, purple-toned illustrations show Fairy Felicity as she follows the snail’s raised, sparkly trail through the night garden, the greenhouse, the orchard, and the pond until she finally reaches her surprise birthday party with all her friends. Kids can use their fingers to follow the snail’s trail with Felicity, too.
More Fairy Tale Books for Kids to Love
The Dragon’s Hoard Stories from the Viking Sagas by Lari Don, illustrated by Cate James
Although it looks like a picture book, this is more of a nonfiction book of stories and occasional pictures. They’re good stories and quite unique since most of us aren’t familiar with Norse legends. Each story is about four or five pages in length.
Miss Muffet Or What Came After by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by David Litchfield
We loved this quirky, hilarious book that goes into DETAIL like you wouldn’t believe about Miss Patience Muffet whose dad is obsessed with bugs and even owns a talking spider. Although her mother disapproves, Patience just wants to play the violin. So, she runs away and has quite an exciting adventure with Bo-Peep, robbers, and the talking spider.
The Most Wonderful Thing in the World by Vivian French, illustrated by Angela Barrett
The king and queen determine that to win their daughter’s hand in marriage, the suitor must show them the most wonderful thing in the world. As the suitors all fail with their attempts (jewels, airplane, mermaid) the princess, Lucia, explores the city with a man named Salvatore. Little by little the two fall in love. And Salvatore tells the majesties what he knows is the most wonderful thing in the world — Lucia.
Leave Me Alone by Very Brosgol
Any harried mother will relate totally to this grandmother’s never-ending struggle to be LEFT ALONE! She just wants to finish knitting her grandchildren’s sweaters for the winter. In peace. Even in the woods, she’s not left alone. Finally, she finally finds a quiet, dark place to finish her knitting. And then returns to gift her family with her loving work. Funny and quite sweet.
Monty’s Magnificent Mane by Gemma O’Neill
Okay, first — GORGEOUS ART! I could frame every page in this beautiful book. And then the story — well, it’s a lovely cautionary tale about getting too big for your britches or mane in this case. Monty’s mane vanity gets him in some crocodile trouble which teaches him perspective. (Yes, it is more of a fable than a fairy tale but . . .)
Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim, illustrated by Grace Zong
My daughter says this is SO MUCH better than the original Goldilocks and the Three Bears because in this story of a young Chinese girl named Goldy. Goldy returns to the scene of her crime to apologize and help fix things. This is a better ending. I agree.
The Three Mouths of Little Tom Drum by Nancy Willard, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen by Yana Sedova
I’m not sure this would be categorized as a picture book but as a fairy tale chapter book with illustrations? Nevertheless, it’s a detailed and solid retelling of the original snow queen story — which might be very interesting to fans of the movie Frozen. It’s beautifully illustrated and has a happy ending. 🙂 (Which not all fairy tales do!)
The Brothers Grimm Little Red Riding Hood illustrated by Sybille Schenker, translated by Anthea Bell Amazing paper cut illustrations make these peek-through-pages totally framable. This is the original story of Little Red Cap and the huntsman who cuts open the wolf and then kills him which may not be appropriate for young readers so you’ll have to decide on that.
The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma by Diane and Christyan Fox
Alice In Wonderland Down the Rabbit Hole by Lewis Carrol, illustrated by Eric Puybaret, retold by Joe Rhatigan & Charles Nurnberg
I’m not sure this counts as a fairy tale but it’s so close. This picture book retells only a small portion of the Alice in Wonderland story — from the fall down the rabbit hole to shrinking and growing to meet strange creatures. The illustrations make this book stunning! And the retelling actually makes a wild story somewhat less strange and more magical. I liked it a lot.
The Elves and the Shoemaker (My First Fairy Tales) adapted by Mara Alperin, illustrated by Erica-Jane Waters
Pastel colors and cheerful illustrations make this fairy tale come alive for young readers. Stan and Jan can’t understand why their shoe business is fading. Nor can they figure out who is making such beautiful shoes that help them get more customers. When they see who is helping them, Stan and Jan repay the elves with elf-sized clothing.
The Secret of the Kelpie retold by Lari Don, illustrated by Philip Longson
In the spirit of a true fairy tale (with sinister elements), we learn about the enticingly dangerous Kelpie who lures you to the water only to drown you. Fortunately, in this story, a quick-thinking sister deciphers the rock pictures and saves her siblings. I found this fascinating, would your kids?
Sleeping Beauty by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Erin McGuire
“Many see Time as a friend, and many see Time as a foe. But for sleeping beauty, Time was a promise.” Rylant’s version of Sleeping Beauty includes the bigger concept of time, which I really love since fairy tales are meant to explore big concepts. This is a gentle retelling with serene illustrations.
Little Red Riding Hood illustrated by Ed Bryan
I think you’ll applaud this updated version of Little Red. Because Red is the one who saves herself, not a woodsman, and makes the wolf run far, far away. Go, Red! The illustrations feel fresh and modern making this picture book an excellent choice for younger readers.
Jack and the Beanstalk illustrated by Ed Bryan
I’m just not a big fan of this fairy tale in general, how about you? But, I will say that I really like the inviting illustrations from Ed Bryan in this classic story.
Over the Hills and Far Away: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes collected by Elizabeth Hammill, illustrated by more than 70 celebrated artists
Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker by Jessica Ahlberg (A Peek-Through Story)
Just as Lucy sits down to read fairy tales to her dog, Mr. Barker, he takes off. She follows him through the fairy tales and meets Goldilocks, Sleeping Beauty, Jack, the Giant, and more. This is a delightful romp through many classic fairy tale worlds!
The Girl with a Brave Heart by Rita Jahanfouz
A fairy tale from Tehran about kindness…A little girl encounters an old lady who asks her to destroy things in her yard but the little girl listens to hear heart and makes the garden beautiful again. To thank her, the old lady makes the girl beautiful. When the girl’s sister hears about this, she visits the old lady also. But, she doesn’t follow her heart and destroys the lady’s things — and gets rewarded in kind, with ugliness.
Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski (ages 6 – 8) series
Once upon a time, a regular girl and her brother accidentally fall into a fairy tale. And mess it all up. Whoops. We love all these funny mixed-up fairy tale stories!
Of Giants and Ice by Shelby Bach (ages 6 – 9) series
When Rory finds out that her new after-school club, Ever After School, is a fairy tale training school for characters. In fact, on her first day she fights a real dragon! We learn that all the kids will be assigned their own character in a familiar tale – and the chance to prove themselves. It’s also the beginning of acceptance for Rory – finding friends for the first time and learning about herself. Love it. (First in a series.)
The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (series) ages 8 – 12
Fairy tales come alive when Alex and Conner (brother and sister) find themselves in the fairy tale book given to them by their grandmother (who happens to be THE fairy godmother). Their only way home is for them to find the fairy tale ingredients for a Wishing Spell that will hopefully help them return to their regular home. Finding these artifacts will be dangerous, mysterious, and life-changing. Each book in this series mesmerizes readers with adventure, plot twists, and mystery.
Half Upon a Time by James Riley (series) ages 8 – 12
When Princess May’s grandma, Snow White, is kidnapped, she’s tossed into Jack’s (of the beanstalk fame) farm. The two venture to rescue dear old grandma back. Fairy tales collide in this humorous and action-packed adventure.
A Tale of Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (series) ages 8 – 12
This book is bloody and macabre and an excellent, imaginative story that weaves Hansel and Gretel with eight more Grimm fairy tales. Hansel and Gretel abandon their terrible parents in order to find better ones –ones that won’t try to kill them. The narrator, a strong, quirky voice, warns us of the bloody things to come. While he’s sometimes distracting, for the most part, I liked how his snarky voice kept me from getting too freaked out by the gruesome parts. Once in the wild forest, Hansel transforms into a ravenous, hunter-beast and Gretel continues on her own. This book will make you want to reread your Complete Brother’s Grimm. (Just don’t read it right before bed.)
In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz (series) ages 8 – 12
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this fabulous story — we’re on our second time through already. We love the message, the fairy tale mash-up, the humor, . . . everything! More Grimm tales await in the harrowing, hilarious adventure about Jack and Jill.
Snow Rose by Emily Winfield Martin ages 8 – 12
This isn’t the same Snow White and Red Rose story from Disney, it’s something closer to the original Grimm story and it’s marvelous. Sisters Snow and Rose live in the woods with their mother because when their father disappeared, they lost their bigger, fancy home. When the girls explore, they befriend a young boy from a mushrooming family named Ivo as well as a large bear whom they nurse back to health during the winter. They fear that the woodsman will find and kill their beloved bear. Then they stumble upon a sinister Little Man who wants to enchant them or kill them. Surprisingly, this is one Grimm story with a happy ending . . .
Ever After High Boxed Set by Shannon Hale (series) ages 8 – 12
The kids of famous fairytales are at boarding high school together separated by heroes and villains. Except some kids like Raven want to pick their own story and ending, not live a preset story. This series is easy-to-read, magical, and fun-filled fairy tale mash-ups!
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale & Dale Hale ages 8 – 12
One of the BEST books, not just graphic novels, EVER! This Rapunzel uses her long braids to lasso the bad guys in the wild west.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee ages 8 – 12
Stuck in a museum with her sister and father who is working on a sword exhibit, Ophelia’s curiosity leads her to a locked room where a boy has been trapped for thousands of years. But Ophelia doesn’t believe in that kind of thing. Except she kind of does believe. She remembers her mother used to tell her those stories . . . This is a breathtaking journey of loss, acceptance, hope, and friendship. I just loved it!
The Fairytale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm) by Michael Buckley (series) ages 8 – 12
Sabrina and Daphne move in with their Grandmother Grimm and learn that they and their grandmother are fairy tale detectives for the town which is filled with fairy tale people called Everafters. You’ll see meet a LOT of fairy tale characters in this magical town. The Sisters Grimm series is suspenseful with lots of secrets, magic, and adventure.
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel (Tyme #1) by Megan Morrison (series) ages 8 – 12
Rapunzel is happy living in her castle with everything she needs since Witch takes good care of her. But her life gets totally confusing and complicated when she follows Jack to the ground, meets fairies who hate Witch, and visits the Woodmother in order to save her own life. Could Witch be what they all say? Rapunzel is very confused.
Reckless by Cornelia Funke (series) ages 8 – 12
Jacob abandons his life in the real world for one behind an enchanted mirror in his father’s office, the mirror where his father disappeared years ago. In Mirrorworld, Jacob travels with Fox, a clever woman who prefers her fox skin to her human skin. When Jacob’s younger brother Will (who is actually an adult and so is Jacob) follows Jacob to Mirrorworld one day, he is attacked by a stoneman, a Goyl. Will’s wounds begin to turn him into a Goyl, only he will be made of jade. This dark story is filled with Grimm fairy tales — fairies, a candy house, unicorns, a Tailor, magic, spells, dwarfs and such.
Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan ages 10+
I adore this reimagined graphic Snow White set in New York City in the 20s. Snow White’s dad is a Wall Street king, her stepmother is a Zigfield Follies star, and her seven small protectors are street kids. It’s SO interesting how Phelan uses this historical setting to animate a familiar fairy tale. The black and white illustrations set the tone for this dark story with a happy ending.
Una falls into the land of stories of heroes and villains but something is very wrong. No new stories are being written. So how did she get written in and who is she? We read this for bedtime and my kids and I looked forward to it every night.
Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll ages 8 – 12
Courageous and adventurous Masha knows Baba Yaga from her grandmother’s stories. After her grandmother dies, and her father remarries, Masha decides to become Baba Yaga’s assistant. To pass Baba Yaga’s tests, Masha uses her wits and the stories from her grandmother. She thinks she will fail when she rescues three children from Baba Yaga’s cage but she passes. Excellent storytelling and illustrations kept me totally enthralled in this not-your-average-fairy tale story.
The Peddler’s Road: The Secrets of the Pied Piper by Matthew Cody ages 8 – 12
It all started in Hamlin, a little town in Germany, in 1284. Now, in the present day, the Pied Piper is looking for the last child to repay his dept. So he takes Max and her brother, Carter. They’re transported to an island filled with the original stolen children, and an island filled with massive, evil rats and other creatures. Will the Peddler help the kids find their way back home? Or will the Piper’s magic be too strong? This ended on a cliff-note which is always kind of irritating but was an interesting take on this Grimm fairy tale. I can’t wait to read the next chapter book in this series when it’s published.
Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Mahler ages 10+
I loved this story. Princess Meriel’s father marries a witch in disguise who turns Meriel’s brothers into swans. Spoiled Meriel must work for once in her life, weaving nettles into shirts to save her brothers. It’s based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Wild Swans.
Bluebeard by Metaphrog
Beginning in a small village shadowed by Bluebeard’s castle, this is a richly illustrated graphic retelling of a classic, macabre fairy tale by Charles Perrault. When Bluebeard invites the starving villagers to his country home, he takes Eve as his wife and imprisons her with magic. The authors skillfully build suspense with every page which is realized when Eve discovers a terrifying secret room filled with Bluebeard’s dead previous wives and buckets of blood. With the help of her sister and her childhood love, Tom, Eve defeats Bluebird at long last.