Did you know that today is “National Pistachio Day”?
My kids love pistachios. Ever since the summer my husband was stationed in El Paso and our family toured a pistachio farm outside of Alamagordo, we’ve been hooked.
The children beg for them every time I go to the grocery store, so we eat pistachios all year long — not just on February 26.
But if you’ve never tried them before, today would be a great day to do so!
Unfortunately, we polished off the last of our pantry’s pistachio stash just yesterday, and as there is still snow on the ground and ice on the bridges in our neck of the woods, I’m not making a trip to the store this morning to replenish our supply.
But that doesn’t mean we’ll have nothing to celebrate, because today also happens to be the official “Tell a Fairytale Day.”
And my kids also love fairy tales.
So we’ll cuddle under a quilt in front of a fire and read a few of our favorites this morning, including some old tales with a new twist. And after each book, we’ll talk about what we’ve read. I’ve included a few appropriate discussion questions for each title to get you started.
You’ve got to admit, a lot of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales are downright strange. But not this one.
The Ugly Duckling has always been one of my all-time favorites, perhaps because my father often compared me to an ugly duckling when I was growing up (although, fortunately for me, I didn’t know that’s how he viewed me until a transformation had already taken place).
I especially enjoy this retelling of the classic tale. And I love the line, “It doesn’t matter if you are born in a duck yard, if you hatch from the egg of a swan.”
Questions for this story:
- Why were the others so mean to the ugly duckling?
- Which makes a person uglier, outward appearance or unkindness towards others?
- How would you have treated this little bird if you’d encountered him while he was still little?
- How do you think God views us? The way we are now, or the way He intends us to be?
- Why do you think so?
- In the end, the swan was grateful for the hard times, because he felt they helped him better appreciate the good times. Do you think that’s a good attitude to have?
- Is it a Biblical perspective? Can you think of verses that support your answer?
There have been lots of retellings of this story from every perspective imaginable, but I like reading The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig — as much for Helen Oxenbury’s terrific illustrations as for the upside-down spin.
Questions to consider:
- Do you think the wolves’ initial reaction to the threat of the pig made sense?
- How about their final solution?
- Would that work in real life? Why or why not?
- What did the third house remind you of?
- Which house would you rather live in?
- Can you think of an instance in history where a strong fortress offered little protection to the people inside?
- Can you think of a group of people who were kept safe, even though they had little in the way of visible, physical protection?
- Do you know anybody whose character completely changed, as the pig’s did? Was it hard for others to trust that person, at first?
- Can you think of any Bible stories where we see this kind of transformation?
- Who is normally behind such radical changes when they happen?
I don’t believe in fortune tellers and want nothing to do with those who practice or pretend to practice this art, but I’ve loved every other book I’ve ever read by Lloyd Alexander and was curious to see his spin on this one.
So I bought a copy of The Fortune-Tellers and was in no way disappointed. Thoughts to ponder:
- Were all the “fortunes” the old fortune teller told true?
- What was he really doing?
- Were the things he said true only of the person whose fortune he was telling, or would they be true of anyone?
- Could he really see the future?
- What happened in the story that clued you into that fact?
- Do you think it was right for the carpenter to take the prophet’s place?
- Were his words helpful and encouraging to people?
- Did he really need a magic cap or a crystal ball to offer such encouragement to others?
The Magic Fish is really a morality tale on contentment. This version can spur some great discussion:
- What did the fisherman do when he found out the fish was really a prince?
- What did his wife want him to do?
- Did the wife seem very happy?
- What do you think her problem was?
- What do you think about the way she treated her husband? Was she very respectful?
- Why do you suppose the husband cooperated with her demands, even though he didn’t want to?
- Do you think the wife would have been happy had the fish granted her final wish?
- What was the end result of her greed?
- Does she remind you of anybody?
Last summer, we brought home Goldilocks and the Three Martians from the library. I’ll tell you straight up that I didn’t like the little girl’s attitude, but it had a good moral, and I did enjoy the rhyming verse, so I’m including it on this list. Here are some questions to pose after you read it:
- Why did Goldilocks build the rocket ship?
- If she was smart enough to build a spaceship, shouldn’t her schoolwork have been pretty easy for her?
- So why do you think she complained about having to do it?
- If she had the time and organizational skills to chart a course from planet to planet, shouldn’t she have had time to clean her room?
- Was she respectful of her mother? What could the mother have done to improve communication?
- What lessons did Goldilocks learn during her travels?
- Do you think she had a better appreciation for home after her experience in outer space?
If you enjoy reading mashups of several different stories in one, you’re sure to enjoy Each Peach Pear Plum.
It’s a great book to read with little ones, as it already has built in “I Spy” questions on every page. My younger set love it.
If you prefer the standard versions of fairy tales, check out Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection.
No surprises here, just lots of bright, colorful illustrations done in Mary Engelbreit’s signature style. My children share my love for her artwork, so I was thrilled to find this newest title on Amazon to add to our collection.
And that’s my list. I know there are lots of other great books I could add, but these are the ones I had on hand. So tell me, what fairytales are your favorites? Do you think a handful of pistachios would help you to enjoy those stories even more?
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