This Sunday, February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day, and it could very well displace Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19) as my favorite unofficial holiday. Tell A Fairy Tale Day is all about exploring myths and stories, old and new. And who doesn’t love an excuse to snuggle up on the sofa in front of the fire and ready a favorite fairy tale? Fairy tales are typically short stories that feature characters such as fairies, dwarves, dragons, elves, giants, gnomes, goblins, witches, mermaids, princesses, trolls, or unicorns. They’re set in a magical world with events that take place “once upon a time.”

Many draw a direct link between fairy tales and Disney’s animated films, but the origins and history of fairy tales pre-date Disney’s interpretations by many centuries. I won’t pretend I don’t enjoy going to the movies with my daughter – in fact, we’re looking forward to the new Beauty and the Beast movie coming out next month. But I still love reading classics by Hans Christian Andersen, The Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Aesop, and others.

One of our favorite activities to do together – Tell a Fairy Tale Day or not – is to make up stories, especially when driving in the car. One of us begins with “Once upon a time,” setting the stage for the story. Then the other takes over and adds to the story and we trade back and forth. Our most recent story was about an octopus named Henry. He had an extra tenacle/arm, which he was using to make breakfast but he spilled the eggs. Somehow he got the eggs back into the pan and made the most delicious scrambled eggs ever…it went on from there. I find storytelling to be a fun and engaging activity to do with my daughter — it helps us both exercise our imagination — and it also help boost her reading and writing skills.

Here are a few ways to have fun with storytelling on Tell a Fairy Tale Day:

  • Re-read all your favorite fairy tales to your little ones. Wikipedia has a good list of stories that range from those originating in folklore to more modern stories defined as literary fairy tales.
  • Take a trip to the local library and borrow some classics.
  • Make up your own fairy tale.
  • Have your kids act out their own version of a favorite fairy tale, complete with costumes.
  • Create fairy tale dice (you can purchase already made dice as well). The dice can have words or images as long as they have story elements to weave into a story (lots of great ideas on Pinterest).
  • Watch movies based on fairy tales.
  • Host a fairy tale party and have your guests to come as their favorite fairy tale character.
  • Use food to celebrate fairy tales: some ideas we’ve seen include pumpkin soup (Cinderella), pea salad (The Princess and the Pea), caramel apples (Snow White), porridge or rice pudding (Goldilocks and the Three Bears), or foods that can stand in for construction materials, like pretzels for straw or fruit snacks for bricks (Three Little Pigs).

Happy reading!