The Biblical Application of Fairy Tales

As a parent, I’m constantly in teaching mode. Sometimes it’s not a planned thing, either. Sometimes opportunities just present themselves.

While cleaning out the attic, we’ve recently come across a box of old children’s books that I had put away (for safe keeping, no doubt). One of the treasures that we found was a book of classic fairy tales. I’m a big fan of fairy tales; there are so many life lessons that can be learned through these little stories! But can you find a Gospel life-application within the pages of a fairy tale?

I believe you can. And it was a pleasant surprise!

Let’s take for instance the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood”. What a great example of how Satan tries to deceive us! He lies to us and tries to trick us to believing that even what we know to be right might just be an incorrect perception!

How about “The Lion and the Mouse”? Remember the lion does not think that the mouse can help him, but gets a laugh from the tiny mouse so he lets him go. Later the lion is caught in a net and it is the mouse that rescues him. The moral of the story COULD be: even though children are small they can still do mighty things for God.

Then there is always the classic tale of “The Tortoise & the Hare”. The race is not to the swift but to those who endure. In the Bible, Paul spoke many times of pressing toward to the goal. That’s exactly what the tortoise did, he did not become overconfident, but kept his mind on the goal, and ultimately won the race.

If any of you are into musical theater, one of my favorite shows is “Into the Woods”. It’s a Stephen Sondheim musical, which takes several well known fairy tales, and combines those stories with a new twist. The story and the music are genius! In the end the lesson that the main characters learn is, Actions have consequences–even for future generations, so be careful what you pass on to your children, because children will listen.

What better reason is there than to be in constant teaching mode?

Have you utilized non-Biblical stories as a resource to help influence your children to live a Biblical World View? Please share with us your experiences and the stories you’ve used.

You can follow Lisa on twitter @lisastrnad and she blogs regularly at talking like a girl.

Comment on a post
10 comments
Angel Cope
Angel Cope

Actually I have used fairy tales and made up stories (Like Lion, Witch and The Wardrobe, and even Snow White etc.) I am leary of magic, my line is when "Magic" Is presented as good, but true love wins is a lesson I want them to learn. Overcoming all obstacles Jesus came to us (and will again) on his white horse to wake us up and TRUE love will conquer evil. =) I asked my daughters the other day "Who is your favorite fairy tale character?" My youngest (7) Said "The third little pig - Cause he was SMART!" Ha ha ha! And we spun into 'Building our house on the rock' =) Mother daughter said "Belle" because both my daughter and Belle have a love to read and Belle is bold enough to stand up to evil, and to know what evil REALLY looks like (Beauty is deceiving is a great lesson for girls, too!) and again LOVE breaks the power of evil.

Susan Berg
Susan Berg

Someday, you will be old enough to read fairy tales again. - quoted from C.S. Lewis, Christian scholar and author.

Ori
Ori

Abbey, I owe you an explanation. I do prefer to use actual historical examples when I can, but that's not because I have a problem with stories. It's because I love history, and I like teaching it to my children.

Ori
Ori

I think that He Who Made the Donkey Talk to teach a lesson would allow us to use our imagination to best package the lessons we need to teach. The three little pigs don't exist, but in that they are no different from a talking cucumber or a puppet newsman. If the story works, it works. There are two possible reasons to teach from a fairytale instead of reality: 1. It can be made more enticing, and therefore keep the listener's attention. 2. It can be made simpler, and make the lesson easier to understand. Reality is complicated.

Lisa S.
Lisa S.

Well I don't think fairy tales are necessarily tales about fairies. Some are, but not all. They are written as more folklore--many written in a time when oral story telling was the norm. They do, for the most part, take place in an imaginary world-- or sub-creation, as J.R. Tolkien explains in an essay he wrote on this very subject. Let's take some of the best loved Christian folklore: C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia" and Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings". While it would be absurd to believe that in real life a lion named Aslan could rule over a kingdom or that Hobbits and Elves might co-exist in a middle Earth setting; these made up characters have been used as an allegory to teach a Gospel message for many years. Good wins against evil. They are, in every way, fairy tales. I remember taking a class many years ago on children's literature. We studies the Grimm brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. While their contributions to literature are huge, I can understand that some question their methodologies. And some may even feel uncomfortable using this type of literature in their homes. I respect that. Disney has used this type of storytelling for years; actually creating their own spin on some of the classic Grimm Brother's stories, which were originally a bit too "dark" for use by the House of Mouse.

Ticia
Ticia

There's a neat book called something like "God and the Fairy Tales," and it goes through and shows the gospel in several different fairy tales. That's always seemed like a cool idea to me. That, and Mars Hill has a cool series they do called "Film and Theology" where they watch movies and show how they point to God. But, as to your actual question, earlier when I couldn't sit down and answer I had all of these different ideas of stories, now of course I'm drawing a complete blank. Oh, just thought of some: Beauty and the Beast- God looks not at the outward appearance, but at the heart (several fairy tales fit that).

Lisa Nuhn
Lisa Nuhn

My minister used the story "Green Eggs and Ham" just this Sunday at the evening children's lesson. He used it to illustrate how persistent we should be about sharing God's word with our friends. Granted it may not exactly be a Fairy Tale, but it is a children's book. I can definitely see how Fairy Tales can be put to use. Especially since many kids already know most of these stories.

Angela
Angela

Why are they called "Fairy Tales"? what are fairies exactly? I would very much like to know your input on this since I have found many christian homes that in one way or another present faries to the kids. I am a mom of two and particularly in my house we do not believe in fairies or play with them or present this to the kids at all in ANY way. My thought process is, I only introduce them to things that are very real, and that God made. Not an imaginary "individual" who do "magic" with a "magic wand" (where is that magic coming from? and where is this fairy coming from?) . I find that it would be unfair to tell my kids to learn to know and see the love of the Lord everywhere, and also tell them for example that there is a "fairy" who is going to bring money at night in exchange for a loose tooth. Which one would they choose to believe in? If it indeed doesn't exist, it is simply not fair to be presented in our family.

Abbey
Abbey

We have chosen not to read or teach most fairytales. Anything that uses magic, witches or creatures that are not real and God didn't not create we stay away from. Of course stories like The 3 bears or The Little Red Hen are great ways to teach in sort of a parable, like Jesus taught :)! I agree with Ori above, history and THE BIBLE have so many great things to teach us so why not teach on real things!!

Ori
Ori

I don't use fairytales for this much, but I do use history. My kids get to watch, for example, Private Snafu. Afterwards we discuss WWII, and what we can learn from it.