Fairy Tales: Reading & Research

For hundreds of years, fairy tales have been read by children and adults alike, instructing, fascinating, and horrifying us by turns. As both readers and writers we return to their themes again and again, gleaning new meaning from each retelling. There are many excellent resources, both online and in print, which can assist the recreational reader, the parent, the teacher, or the student of fairy tales. This pathfinder endeavors to describe and categorize these resources, in order to make easier both the study and the enjoyment of these remarkable stories.

Internet Resources

Multi-Story Sites: Well-Known Tales Online with Full Text

Sur La Lune Fairy Tales
47 annotated fairy tales, 1600 international tales, 1500 illustrations, introduction to fairy tales studies, preschool storytime ideas, and a discussion forum.

Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales and Stories
The complete stories in translation, with links to many other Anderson sites.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Includes animated stories.

Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts
Excellent resource for multiple versions of well-known tales.

Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books
Four of Lang’s classic works, in their entirety. On the Young Readers page, find “Lang, Andrew” alphabetically to reach his books.

Pure Gold Fables and Fairy Tales:
Tales from a 1909 children’s anthology.

Celtic Folklore
Scroll down the page to find links to several volumes of Celtic fairy tales.

Indian Fairy Tales
Fairy tales from India.

Multi-Story Sites: Lesser-Known Tales Online with Full Text

Whootie Owl’s Stories to Grow By
Fun and exciting folk and fairy tales from around the world that “promote positive values” without drifting into religious matters.

19th-Century German Stories
Some English translations of German fairy tales, with lovely original illustrations.

Specific Tales Online with Full Text
(Sites devoted to particular tales, typically including variant forms and history as well as a well-known version)

Cinderella Stories

The Cinderella Project

The Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant-Killer Project

The Little Red Riding Hood Project

Snow White

The Tam Lin Pages

Beauty and the Beast

East O’ the Sun and West O’ the Moon

Print Resources

In libraries, depending on the system of classification, books of fairy tales may be in a variety of places. Libraries using the Dewey Decimal System will probably keep most of their fairy tales books at call numbers beginning with 398, the Dewey number for folklore, especially 398.2 up to (but not including) 398.5. There may also be some collections of fairy tales in the short story section, with the call number 808.83. In libraries using the Library of Congress classification system, it will probably be helpful to look in the catalog under the subject heading Fairy Tales to find out where they keep their books. Remember, you can always ask a librarian for assistance!

Lurie, A. (1994). The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

MacDonald, M. R. (1982). The Storyteller’s Sourcebook: A Subject, Title and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children. Michigan: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Sprug, J. W. (1994). Index to Fairy Tales, 1987-1992. New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press.

Thompson, S. (1993). Motif-Index of Folk Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-books, and Local Legends. Indiana University Press.
The new enlarged and revised edition of 1993 is available on IBM compatible CD-ROM, with earlier versions in print form.

For lists of interesting books, try the following sites:

Traditional Tales

Traditional Literature
Bibliography of fairy tale collections and books on the study of fairy tales.

Modern Tales

The Endicott Studio
“The Endicott Studio was founded by Terri Windling as a creative center devoted to Modern Mythic Arts: literary, visual, and media art projects rooted in themes from folktales and myths.” This site includes information about Endicott publications, mostly modern fairy tales and related fantasy, as well as recommendations for further reading.

Feminist Fairy Tales
A list of feminist versions of familiar tales.

Fractured Fairy Tales
Old tales with a modern twist.

Research Resources

Once again, the Dewey Decimal System will probably shelve most books about fairy tales in the call number 398, particularly 398 up to (but not including) 398.5. They are typically mixed in with actual storybooks of fairy and folk tales, so some browsing will probably be necessary. Useful Library of Congress subject headings might include: Fairy Tales’Classification, Fairy Tales’History and Criticism, and Symbolism in Fairy Tales, among others. Remember, it is always helpful to ask a librarian for guidance, and he or she will be happy to assist you.

Sources for the Analysis and Interpretation of Folk and Fairy Tales
An extensive bibliography and links for the serious student of folk and fairy tale studies.

Marvels &Tales, Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies

One of the few journals devoted to the study of fairy tales. Published twice a year. The site includes abstracts of articles that have been published, as well as information about how to obtain back issues.

The Lion and the Unicorn
A journal which focuses on the broader world of international children’s literature, but with frequent reference to and discussion of fairy tales. Published three times a year. The site includes listings of the articles in a number of recent issues, and libraries which subscribe to Project Muse at have access to the full-text of issues from 1995 to the present.

Introduction to Fairy Tales from Sur La Lune Fairy Tales
Introduction to fairy tales studies with guides for teachers and students.

This pathfinder was originally created by Hilary M Leon.

This pathfinder was revised and updated by Caroline Dechert for Dr. Eileen Abels Info 780 Course at Drexel University, Spring, 2008.