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Representative Study on the Theme “Children and Fairy Tales”

Germany is experiencing a boom in film adaptations of fairy tales – but which fairy tales do children like best, and do they prefer these in book form or on television? Which fairy tales are the most popular among girls, and which ones among boys? Thus far there has been, for example, no representative study addressing the question of which fairy tales children know, which they prefer, and whether they can recall film adaptations they really enjoyed. In autumn 2015, therefore, the IZI interviewed a representative sample of n=1,210 3 to 13 year-olds in Germany on precisely these questions.   

Results: The most well-known fairy tales almost exclusively all come from the Brothers Grimm. Children know fairy tales, and on average they can name five fairy tales spontaneously. The most well-known fairy tale is Hansel and Gretel, followed by Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. The top ten fairy tales all come from the Brothers Grimm. Overall, the girls’ favourite fairy tale is Cinderella and the boys’ favourite is Hansel and Gretel.
The responses to the question regarding which fairy tales children like in particular demonstrate clear gender differences (see table). One reason for this is the main characters: girls prefer fairy tales in which fellow females assert themselves. Boys tend to prefer fairy tales in which male protagonists prove themselves, or male creatures such as dwarfs, the frog prince or the big bad wolf have a particular role to play.

In response to the question of which film adaptations of fairy tales they have seen on television and which of these they liked in particular, the children once again name the most well-known ones: Cinderella, Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. The clear favourite here is the DEFA classic Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel (Three Nuts for Cinderella).

Children's favourite fairy tales






Hansel and Gretel


Snow White

Puss in Boots


Sleeping Beauty

Snow White


Hansel and Gretel

Little Red Riding Hood,
The Musicians of Bremen


Little Red Riding Hood

The Frog Prince



The Wishing Table, the Gold Ass
and the Cudgel in the Sack


Mother Holle

Hans in Luck