Although many fairy tales involve princesses or queens, they should have plenty of things that boys are looking for. Although I used to read the occasional fairy tale to my boys when they were younger, it has been awhile. Two things occurred in the past several months to make me think of fairy tales differently. One, the grandparents took the boys to see Tangled kicking and screaming because they did not want to go see any “princess” movie. They ending up loving it and it has since become one of their favorite movies. Second, when I was browsing my Kindle recently, my younger son asked me to read him a story off of it. All I had for kids were Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I started reading Snow White to him and he was completely fascinated. He has since asked me many times to read him more off of my Kindle. Really, when you think about it, fairy tales have much to offer boys. Take Hansel and Gretel for example. It has several bad guys, the wicked stepmother and the witch. It has some spooky scenes in it, the kids being lost in the woods and being captured by the evil witch who wants to eat them. It has a house made out of candy. It has some blood and guts (they push the witch into the oven). The underdogs triumph and good wins out in the end.
If you want to find some for your boys, there are, of course, plenty of fairy tales to choose from. The traditional Grimm’s and Hans Christian Anderson are great places to start. If you are looking for something different, here are a few recommendations. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together, is a great book by Mary Ann Hoberman (she has several other ones in the You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series). The book has 8 different fairy tales that a child and parent or more experienced reader can read together. These are just snippets of the original fairly tales, but they are a lot of fun for beginning readers. The placement of the text and the color indicates which lines each reader will read and each story ends with both parties reading together, “You read to me, I’ll read to you.” Both the stories and the illustrations are quite humorous. Another great suggestion is The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. It will have kids (and adults) laughing from the get-go. It is basically a parody of well-known fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk, the Ugly Duckling, Chicken, Little, etc. It manages to make everything funny from the title page, to the table of contents, to the back cover. For your boys to appreciate the humor, they should first be familiar with the regular telling of these fairy tales. Also, young children, may not quite get the sarcasm. However, elementary school kids should love the humor and the brilliant illustrations (this is a Caldecott honor book).