Introducing a Fractured Fairy Tales Unit Into Your Reading Classroom

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Fairy tales are a very important part of our culture although are not just prominent in American culture; countries all over the world have their own versions of classics and even stories originating from their countries.

Although fairy tales are classics, they may have slight differences from version to version. However, these differences do not change the overall story line, characters, or outcome. So what do we call it when an author takes a classic fairy tale and changes it into something completely different? It’s called a fractured fairy tale. This unit will cover fractured fairy tales in depth, and the unit as a whole could take up to approximately one month to complete in full. This first lesson will introduce what a fractured fairy tale is and look at its characteristics.


  • Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney
  • The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood by Agnese Baruzzi and Sandro Natalini
  • The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock
  • The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
  • Scratch paper
  • Pencils
  • Dry erase board
  • Dry erase marker


Tell the students they will be learning about fractured fairy tales. Ask the students to think about the term “fractured fairy tale” and what it might mean. Begin by breaking the phrase apart. Firs, ask the students what a fairy tale is. Also, have them list some classic fairy tales they may know. Once they clearly understand what fairy tales are, ask them to explain what fractured means. Encourage the students to say that fractured might mean broken or messed up. Tell the students that when you put the phrase together it would mean that the fairy tale was broken or messed up. Now explain they will be trying to figure out what is “messed up” about our fractured fairy tale. Tell them you will begin by reading first a classic fairy tale and then a fractured fairy tale. Ask the students to listen very carefully and make a note on a piece of scratch paper what they notice about the second story.

Looking at the Classics

Now read Little Red Riding Hood by Jerry Pinkney. Then read The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale by Agnese Baruzzi and Sandro Natalini. When finished, ask the students what they noticed about the second story. What was different about the second story? Why would people consider this a “messed up” version of the first story? Make a list of their responses on the dry erase board.

Now read The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock. Next, read The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. Once again, ask the students what they may have noticed about the second story and why it may be considered a “broken” version of the original. Record their responses on the dry erase board. When all ideas have been written, discuss what characteristics they have found in a fractured fairy tale. What is a fractured fairy tale? Some possible characteristics to discuss may include:

  • Change in character names
  • Change in character actions or personalities
  • Change in point of view
  • Change in setting
  • Change in plot
  • Change in outcome
  • Change in ending

Continuing the Learning

This will conclude the first lesson of the fractured fairy tale unit. As the unit progresses, you will dive deeper into the comparisons and contrasts of fractured fairy tales with classic fairy tales, as well as complete exciting projects. If you are not sure that your students fully grasp the concept of what a fractured fairy tale is, there are several books you can use to continue practicing. Some suggestions include:

  • The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  • The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires and Holly Berry
  • The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup and Matt Tavares
  • Red Riding Hood by James Marshall

Although teaching reading elements is important throughout this fractured fairy tale unit, take the time to have fun with it! Introducing a fractured fairy tale unit can be the beginning of a wild reading ride in your classroom that both you and your students will not want to end!

This post is part of the series: A Unit on Fractured Fairy Tales

This fractured fairy tale unit will make reading fun in elementary and middle school classrooms everywhere. By introducing fractured fairy tales, focusing on story elements, comparing and contrasting, and many fun projects, students will develop a new love for reading!

  1. Fairy Tales Gone Wrong: Introducing a Fractured Fairy Tale Unit
  2. What’s the Difference? A Unit on Comparing Fractured and Regular Fairy Tales
  3. Cinderella Did What? Writing Fractured Fairy Tales
  4. A Cooperative Learning Fractured Fairy Tale Project
  5. Bringing Broadway to the Classroom: A Fractured Fairy Tale Play for Students