Are fairytales outdated?
Shouldn’t we be creating South African classics for our kids?
I’ve always enjoyed telling a good story. These days I find that that particular talent comes in very handy when getting the kids on their way to dreamland.

The problem with reading them bedtime stories is that it requires the light to remain on and if they’re light-sensitive like Maddi, I could be up for at least an hour before she closes her eyes.

So I resort to telling her my own versions of the classics. I embellish on Cinderella and say stuff like her mother died because she didn’t eat her vegetables. Or reveal that the three little pigs were tipped off by a mouse in the barn that the farmer was going to sell them to the butcher before they embarked on an adventure to build their own homes.

However, now that I’ve had my first book published, (and a second one on the way), I’ve been thinking about the lack of authentic South African children’s literature available.

Are stories of fair maidens being ravaged by wicked wolves and three little pigs having their houses blown down by wolves; and the Cinderella thing with the prince; and Snow White and her dwergie buddies; are they really relevant to South African kids?

I was raised on it and I guess we all were and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it. Although I must admit the wolf always gets a raw deal because he was basically the meanest predator in Europe, and these stories invariably originate from Europe.

Isn’t it time we started creating our own authentically South African stories? And I don’t mean African, I mean South African. Stories that are easy to read and relevant to our experiences of our country. When I began writing my first book, the lack of authentic South African children’s stories was somewhat of a motivating factor.

At the end of the day there’s no replacing a classic is there? However there’s nothing wrong with starting our own classics either. What do you think? Is it important that our kids learn stories of lions and leopards and springboks as opposed to three European bears, girls with Goldilocks, and a couple of big bad wolves?

Are European children’s tales irrelevant for South African kids?
Read more by Marlon Abrahams

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