The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff: The old favourite about the goats and the troll - a celebrated Norse story. The goats need to get to the other side of the bridge, under which lives a fearsome monster. How will they avoid being eaten and get what they desire? (543 words) Themes: Cleverness and strategy are more important than brute strength, Solidarity is important (Zip Stage 5) (Flesch grade 2.7) (Lexile 630)

The Fisherman and his Wife

The Fisherman and his Wife: When the fisherman catches a magical fish, he earns the right to wishes. However, although he thinks he can please his wife, she is never satisfied. No matter what he asks for, she wants more. It all turns out to be a sobering moral lesson. (1094 words) Themes: Greed, Humility, Reasonableness, Reciprocity (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 3.6) (Lexile 640)

The Frog Prince

The Frog Prince: A spoilt princess makes a promise to a (magical) frog which she never intends to keep. Fortunately for her, the long suffering frog comes for his promise, and her contempt gives way to compassion, with a delightful happy ending. (875 words) Themes: Consideration for others, Keeping your word (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 4.6) (Lexile 540)


Cinderella: The most famous fairy tale in the world – a tried and true classic about transformation and the rewards of goodness. Cinderella is terribly put upon by her awful stepmother, but when she hears of the prince’s ball, she wants to go. You know the rest. This is a “kind” retelling of the tale. (1112 words) Themes: Genuine niceness wins out in the end (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 4.0) (Lexile 610)


Thumbelina: Hans Christian Anderson’s magical tale about a tiny person. Thumbelina is doing well until she is stolen by a bird, who then drops her. She is proposed to by a mole, and nearly ends up imprisoned. Fortunately her adventures lead to a happy ending. (1369 words) Themes: Kindness brings its reward, Be brave and true (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 4.0) (Lexile 600)

The Twelve Dancing Princesses

The Twelve Dancing Princesses: Another old favourite based on a mystery. A poor soldier agrees to solve the problem of where the princesses go every night? But can he discover the truth before his life is forfeited? He is aided by his wits and an invisible cloak. (1217 words) Themes: Cleverness can save the day, Liars don’t prosper in the end (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 3.8) (Lexile 640)

The Flower of Happiness

The Flower of Happiness: A little known Chinese tale with a powerful moral. Yo Fu sets out to find the reason why the Princess Jasmine – only daughter of the Emperor – never smiles. He journeys far and wide, looking for the elusive “Flower of Happiness”. As well as being a lovely adventure, this is also a charming love story. (1378 words) Themes: Selfishness is bad, altruism is good, Those of good heart who persevere will be rewarded (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 3.3) (Lexile 480)

The Enchanted Princess

The Enchanted Princess: A beautifully symmetrical and morally uplifting story. There are two brothers – Helmer is boastful and cruel – Hans is humble and kind. They both set out to find the princess locked up in the mysterious castle. There are magical tasks (which are tests of character), punishment, and a happy ending. (1852 words) Theme: Goodness brings its reward, Beware boastfulness (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 3.7) (Lexile 610)

The Magic Arrow

The Magic Arrow: A wonderful Indonesian story. Scri the princess is promised to Sedana. But as luck would have it, a cruel king wants her instead. The king’s warrior is sent to bring her back. All is looking decidedly grim, until a little divine intervention saves the day. (1143 words) Themes: Bullies get their comeuppance, Love is rewarded (Zip Stage 8) (Flesch grade 5.1) (Lexile 750)

The Garden of Enchantments

The Garden of Enchantments: A really unusual but lovely Persian fairy tale about three orphaned children and a heroic quest. It combines all the classic elements – cruelty (and its reward), enchantment which can only be broken by love, magical animals, a long and arduous journey, a final reconciliation and happy ending. (1955 words) Themes: Love and goodness is rewarded, Loyalty and perseverance are important (Zip Stage 6) (Flesch grade 3.4) (Lexile 580)

THe Luck Child

The Luck Child: An absolute gem – funny, exciting and morally rewarding. A boy is born lucky. The evil king has been told that he will inherit the throne, so the king sets out to be rid of the child by any means. However, the child is a ‘luck child’, and every one of the king’s dastardly schemes fails. One of the most perfect stories ever created. (2054 words) Themes: Evil brings its own downfall, Niceness brings its reward, Perseverance and courage pay off (Zip Stage 8) (Flesch grade 3.4) (Lexile 700)

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid: Hans Christian Anderson’s immortal heartbreaker , about the mermaid who falls in love with a man and gives up everything to become human. It is more emotionally challenging than most fairy tales, but the payoff is a powerful sense of the power of love. (2000 words) Themes: Love, Loyalty, Altruism (Zip Stage 7) (Flesch grade 3.7) (Lexile 620) This story is more sophisticated than its readability measure suggests, and is more appropriate for older children.