What do you know about Cinderella? Perhaps the blonde-haired, blue eyed, Disney princess? Maybe you’ve read the Brothers Grimm version from 1800’s Germany, or even farther back to the late 1600’s with Charles Perrault‘s version. Did you know that Cinderella stories are not limited to a Western European perspective, and in fact appear in more than 500 versions around the world? No one knows the true origin of the famous folktale and its universal theme of good versus evil- but we can enjoy all of the unique twists and learn about cultural values, as we read the diverse stories.
Kid World Citizen is proud to collaborate with some of the best multicultural and educational blogs on the web to present “Cinderella Story Around the World.” While this international project is only a small sampling of the versions of the folktale that are available, we worked together to provide a cross-cultural selection suitable for elementary classrooms.
Here are the book reviews, in order of the authors’ last names. Click on the titles of each book to read the reviews! Once you’ve picked a few books and shared them with your kids, start a discussion:
- What are the similarities and differences between the stories? Think of the main characters, the setting, and the plot.
- Did you notice cultural references? Pay attention to the clothing, housing, the role of animals, and the landscapes.
- Which story did you like best?
- Is there a story that you didn’t like? What would you change in the story to make it more appealing?
- How are the endings similar or different?
Analyzing fairy tales from around the world gives us glimpses into the important values of the different cultures. If you have a favorite Cinderella story, leave us a note in the comments. Tell us which story you enjoy and why!:) Here are the books we read:
Jackie, at My Little Bookshelf, reviewed Cindy-Ella: An Aussie Cinderella, by Tom Champion. This cute book is absolutely packed with Australian slang and cultural references- and Jackie has helped us all by providing a list of translations! Her review shows the similarities and differences between the Cinderella story you might know, and sweet Cindy-Ella’s story.
Gina at famiglia&seoul shared The Korean Cinderella, written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Ruth Heller. The story is filled with references to Korean culture, such as the three “tokgabi“or goblins. Accompanying the book, Gina created a great hands-on activity and sensory basket- including cultural artifacts- perfect for little ones. I love when we can take the learning even further after reading the book!
Daria, of My Favorite Multicultural Books, reviewed Domitila: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition, retold by Jewell Reinhart Coburn. This wonderful story takes place in rural Hidalgo, Mexico, and is filled with proverbs in Spanish and English. In this story, Domitila stands apart from your typical fairytale princess!
Another story that takes place in Mexico, Monica from Mommy Maestra, read Tomie dePaola’s story Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story. While the adaptation is new, the story is rich in cultural details and beautifully illustrated. I love Tomie dePaola’s versions of traditional folktales!
Chrissy, from The Outlaw Mom Blog, read a Cinderella story from Thailand called Kao and The Golden Fish as remembered by Wilai Punpattanakul-Crouch and retold by Cheryl Hamada. What makes Kao and the Golden Fish special is that the story is wordless, letting the illustrations tell the folktale. The text is presented at the end of the book- but parents and kids can tell the story as they like.
Leanna GM, of All Done Monkey shared with us the unique story of Estrellita de oro/Little Gold Star: A Cinderella Cuento by Joe Hayes. This version of Cinderella comes from the author’s Hispanic culture of the southwest of the US. The text is bilingual Spanish/English for an added bonus!
Becky, from Kid World Citizen, presents The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story retold by Rebecca Hickox and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. In this wonderful story from Iraq, a fish helps Maha get to the henna party, where she meets the mother of her future husband.
Tallulah, from Bilingual Babes read Cinderella (Jump at the Sun, Fairytale Classics), illustrated by John Kurtz. While the storyline is similar to the Disney version of Cinderella, this re-telling of Cinderella has African-American origin- it is so important for all kids to see diversity in children’s literature!
Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China was reviewed by Becky (me!) at Kid World Citizen. Said to be the original Cinderella story from the 9th century, this retelling of Yeh-Shen by Ai-Line Louise, is true to its original story and dreamily illustrated by Ed Young. It has all of the familiar concepts (poor young girl, wicked stepmother, royalty looking for a wife, and a left-behind slipper), with a lot of cultural connections.
Jody, from Mud Hut Mama, found and reviewed an on-line version of The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece by Anthony Manna and Soula Mitakidou. It’s great story, and wonderful for families who have internet (or a kindle!) but might not have access to a library.
Raina, of Mamacita Spins The Globe reviewed Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, by Robert D. San Souci. This adaptation comes from the West Indies, from the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. With tropical Cinderella story has a twist in the plot that lets the reader appreciate the clever Fairy Godmother even more!
Aisha of Hartlyn Kids also reviewed Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci. Aisha’s husband is of Caribbean descent and in her review, she’s able to provide an insight into some of the cultural references in the story. Pointing out these details to your kids while you read turns storytime into a multicultural lesson.
Daria from My Favorite Multicultural Books also looked at Sootface, An Ojibwa Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci. In this story, Cinderella attracts her husband with her honesty, courage, kindness, and good nature. Daria tells us that the illustrations are beautiful, and contain many references to Ojibway culture.
Leanna GM, author of All Done Monkey also read Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella by Alan Schroeder, which takes place in the southeastern US. While the plot in this re-telling story is similar to the Cinderella story many know, Appalachian culture has influenced many elements in the book, and the ending is lovely.
Jill at MomsGoneGlobal.com shared her review of The Talking Eggs, a Creole Cinderella folktale of the American South by Robert D. San Souci and Jerry Pinkney. Check out the videos of her cute sons talking about the book and playing with his own talking eggs!
Mary, from Sprout’s Bookshelf, reviewed Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, a Cinderella story by John Steptoe that takes place a long time ago in Zimbabwe. While there is a kind and beautiful heroine, this Cinderella story has many different elements that sets it apart from the story we may be familiar with. Mary is a children’s librarian and has wonderful, intelligent writing, and has included a link to additional activities associated with the book.
Finally, Whitney at Pen Pals And Picture Books contributed 2 posts about Cinderella stories from around the world. Part 1 includes 4 stories written or retold by Shirley Climo: The Korean Cinderella, The Irish Cinderlad, The Persian Cinderella, and The Egyptian Cinderella (some believe this story of a slave girl, Rhodopis, who was stolen away from her home in Greece is the original Cinderella!). Part 2 includes Raisel’s Riddle, a Jewish version of Cinderella set in Poland by Erica Silverman; Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China retold by Ai-Ling Louie; and The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece, by Anthony Manna;