How do you determine which fairy tales are age appropriate? A good gauge is by the way that the conflict (or “evil”) is depicted and by the complexity of the tale. Here is a basic guide:
Young Three Year Olds:
little nature stories
simple stories about daily life in the home and garden (these are many times “made-up” from daily life.)
Children under three years old do not just imitate, they explore. They absorb every aspect of their environment – so stories about their daily life will meet their developmental needs.
Older Threes and Four Year Olds: They love very simple, sequential stories! If you are new to telling a fairy tale – these are simple to learn. My kindergarteners still love these stories.
The Giant Turnip
Little Louse and Little Flea
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
The Gingerbread Man
At this age, the child loves repetition! They will repeat things over and over! A story that has a repetitive nature is candy to their ears! And in fact, is building auditory processing.
Four Year Olds and up: A little more complexity but not too much drama!
The Billy Goats Gruff
Little Red Hen
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Three Little Pigs
The Pancake Mill
The Wolf and the Seven Kids
Mashenka and the Bear
At four years old, the young child is now aware of conflict on a conscious level. Stories with simple conflicts and easy resolutions delight their need for order in the universe! Good wins!
Five Year Olds and up: Stories can have more challenge with good and evil plus more detail!
Little Red Riding Hood
Jack and The Bean Stalk
Hansel and Gretel
Little Briar Rose
The Golden Goose
Six Year Olds and up: Children at this age are now ready for characters that have suffering in their journey.
Bremen Town Musicians
This is by no means comprehensive but gives you a feeling for the kind of stories for each age.