We really have not had the best weather in the North West over the last few weeks so we’ve been making our way through a few of the rainy day activities from our staycation plans. One of these was to visit a library, something I used to do at least once a week when it was just me and Lucas. As I got further through my pregnancy with the twins, a walk to the bottom of the road was a struggle, nevermind 30 minutes to the library, so we gradually stopped going and never quite got in the swing of it again. It’s such a shame because I feel like it’s really important to support your local library and I actually do like to use it for me and for Lucas. It’s nice to get some different books without having to wonder where you will possibly squash them onto already overflowing bookcases. I liked to pick up some crocheting and cookery books so I could try before I buy. I’m hoping we’ll start to become regular visitors again as Arthur and Brandon get older but this summer I took advantage of having a car and having my husband free to look after the twins. Lucas and I went for lunch at my mum’s house and visited the little library in her village – which is the one I went to as a child. I remember going there in the holidays for their children’s storytimes with my brother. We’d always go and choose books from there; this was when you had little library cards that slotted into the front of the books and you had to look up the book you wanted in the card catalogue! As I got older I went on my own to work my way through the Sweet Valley High and Point Horror collection then as a teenager me and my friends used to go under the pretext of doing work when it was actually to look at boys on the walk there…terrible!
So anyway I spent a lovely morning with my Mum and Lucas in this little library, still as lovely as I remember it to be and we sat in tiny chairs in the children’s section while the rain pattered on the windows. Lucas made his way through quite a few books and I selected some for us to bring home. I am desperately looking for a good fairy tale collection for him so I picked up a few in the hopes of finding what I’m looking for: a fairy tale book with the endings I remember as a child! It’s not necessarily for him to read now but I wanted on on our bookshelf for when he’s ready. It really seems difficult to find a collection of traditional stories without the endings being changed to what is deemed ‘appropriate’ plots. We read through Three Billy Goats Gruff as we sat in the library (one of my favourites) and right at the end the last Billy Goat Gruff trip traps over the bridge and decides he can’t be bothered to fight the troll at the moment so carries on, the troll then decides to leave his home under the bridge before the goat returns for winter. As I was reading it I thought, “that’s not how I remember it ending” and as I read through the other books many were the same. I actually had to ask my husband if that was the ending he remembered.
I suppose I don’t know if the endings would frighten Lucas or not, maybe they would, but isn’t that up to me to decide if he’s ready to read them? I don’t remember ever being particularly traumatised by them as a child, in fact my collection of Grimm stories was one of my favourite books. Are we not giving our children enough credit for being able to tell the difference; can they not just take the joy in an imaginative story or do we really need to worry that these tales are ‘dangerous’ for their little minds?
I guess the whole point of fairy tales is that they change and evolve. So many are written from folk stories, tales told from person to person, and will obviously have been adapted over the years. Probably many of these stories had been tamed down from the originals when I read them. Still I can’t help but feel a little robbed when I get to the end of Red Riding Hood and Grandmother was hiding the the cupboard!
I’d like to think that I know my children well enough to know how they would react to a book and when they are ready to read it but maybe it would upset them and I would instantly regret it. Incidentally the ‘safe’ Three Billy Goats Gruff book has become one of Lucas’ favourites and we have to read it several times a day. What do you think, is there anything you don’t like your children to read or are we being too protective?