And they lived happily ever after. Well, not exactly …

When you think of your favorite childhood stories—perhaps “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid,” or “Little Red Riding Hood”—maybe you think of Disney cartoons, fairy tales, and happy endings.

But you might be surprised to learn that the original versions of many childhood favorites ended not-so-happily ever after. If you think The Little Mermaid ends up marrying her Prince Charming, think again! And Little Red Riding Hood defeats the wolf at Grandma’s house, right? Not a chance! In fact, stories for children were often written with fear in mind. The idea was that kids would read stories such as Little Red Riding Hood and learn the danger of, in this case, talking to friendly strangers (who just might be “wolves” in disguise).

What if parents couldn’t get their young son to stop sucking his thumb? Simple: Tell him the story of the man who cuts off kids’ thumbs with giant scissors to break the habit.


If you are interested in how fairy tales and other stories were used to terrify children, click the image above to read this article from Mental Floss.

If you want to write your own version of “Little Red Riding Hood” while earning college credit, consider taking our English 101 course, which includes a Fable Narrative essay assignment. And for even more of a fun challenge, you can read and write about the Frankenstein story if you take English 102!


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