I grew up pouring over the stories and various illustrations from large edition called The Giant All-Color Book of Fairy Tales: 50 Best Loved Stories retold by Jane Carruth and published by Golden Press. We're all familiar with Walt Disney's version of fairy tales. The volume I grew up with related the unsaccharined version of fairy tale stories. Likewise, I've exposed my kids to unedited stories of Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, The Princess and the Pea, and Cinderella quite early. And while my kids aren't too fearful of the dark or storms, they're terrified of wolves! They always cast the "bad guy" as a wolf or dragon in their pretend play. So, I would encourage you to preselect the volume you chose to introduce to your family.
My favorite volume is Classic Fairy Tales. The talented animator and illustrator Scott Gustafson does a beautiful job with the illustrations of his compilation. Take notice of his hearty, rosy-cheeked children. His illustrations soften any "scare" factor in the folktales.
Look for books with individual stories. We love:
- The individual tales retold and illustrated by Paul Galdone!
- The Princess and the Pea illustrated by Dorothee Duntze
- Cinderella illustrated by Hilary Knight
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears published by Hart Publishing Company
Also, research other culture's versions of familiar stories. Take the Cinderella story, for instance, just about every culture or nation has a retelling of the Cinderella story, and it's fun to read the different ones! Start with Tomie dePaola's Adelita: a Mexican Cinderella story, The way meat loves salt: a Cinderella tale from the Jewish tradition by Nina Jaffe, and Yeh-Shen: a Cinderella story from China by Ai-Ling Louie.