Part of the literature genre, fairy tales are fictitious stories, usually intended for kids. The word “fairy” doesn’t necessarily refer to a fairy; it generally indicates fantasy. Simply put, fairy tales are mythical stories, not based on real incidents. These stories typically have kings, queens, witches, elves, giants, fairies, dragons, and similar characters. Focusing on a specific event or individual’s life, the stories are filled with multiple emotions and invariably end on a happy note.

A typical fairy tale house. Image credit: Flickr
A typical fairy tale house. Image credit: Flickr

For a tale to be fairy, it should have an element of magic, wonder and extraordinary. For instance, a boy could turn into a bird or a seal may transform into a girl in a fairy tale. Generally, these tales start as “Once upon a time…” and end with the sentence “… they lived happily ever after.” Cinderella, The Frog Prince, The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, The Ugly Duckling, etc. are some popular fairy tales.


Primarily, fairy tales offer entertainment, but the majority also carry a moral. For example, Hansel and Gretel’s moral is to not trust strangers blindly. Similarly, The Ugly Duckling gives out the message that inner strength and confidence is what matters the most in life than external appearance. The message in a fairy tale is not always obvious and is more implied or ingrained into the plot of the story.


Fairy tales have existed for more than thousand years. Most stories were passed down through word-of-mouth, with the tales getting some details added and left out according to the period. Though kids are fairy tales’ primary audience, the oldest tales were meant for adults. However, not all fairy tales date back to several centuries. For instance, The Ugly Duckling was penned during the 1800s.


Fairy tales are still popular and which is evident by new-age authors reviving age-old fairy tales, or writing their own original tales. In fact, several modern-day movies are loosely based on fairy tales. All of these developments allude to the fact that fairy tales are a part of the modern human society.