Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota
The brothers Grimm wrote many fairy tales set in Niedersachsen, the northern part of Germany where my mother’s family came from. There is a complete travel itinerary from Hannover up to the coast where you can see the settings for many of the stories. It is called The Fairy Tale Road. The stories are not, by and large, comforting, but are, I think, important pieces of literature. I suppose that because my family is so closely associated with Bremen I always was drawn to the story of the Bremen Town Musicians. I remember reading the story in the set of Child Craft books my mother got for me in the mid-1960’s, complete with the picture of the statue in Bremen’s main square. I was really excited to see that statue on our May trip. Both my son and daughter in law were familiar with the story, and they were excited to see the statue, too.
Imagine my dismay when I printed out some travel photos and showed my coworkers the photo of the donkey, dog, cat, and rooster, all making a clamor to scare the thieves away from the farm house, and very few people had ever heard of the story! I could understand why many of our American Indian friends didn’t know the story. They felt so sorry for the animals being neglected and discarded by their owners. Perhaps I am naive, but I thought most Americans my age with any sort of education would know of the Bremen Town Musicians. After all, 46% of North Dakotans claim German heritage. Well, I was wrong.
I rubbed the donkey’s nose after I took the photo in the square, grateful for my parents’ enriching my life with literature. After the dismal recognition rate from my coworkers, I vowed that any grandchildren I may have will know this story.
What stories do you think are essential for children to hear and read?