The Spooky Truth Behind Your Favorite Bedtime Stories

Bedtime stories have been around for generations as a relaxing time for parents to bond with their children before they go to sleep. We can all recall the classics that were read to us as a kid and the calming effect they had on us as our parents recited their words. While the history of bedtime stories may seem fairly straightforward, according to Wikipedia, many times they can contain deeper themes that may be moderately disturbing.  

A child who looks scared and hiding under blankets

What makes a good spooky bedtime story? 

First of all, your delivery of the story needs to be the most important element. You need to be both excited and articulate while reciting the spooky story to your child. Remember, timing is everything when it comes to creating great suspense and horror. According to H.P Lovecraft, “the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” While coming up with your own bedtime story may be fun, let’s face it . . . many of us don’t have the time to do that before Halloween. You’re more than likely going to rely on the classics, the fairytales you know by heart. Well for this Halloween we wanted to share something interesting with you . . . the spooky truth behind your favorite fairytale bedtime stories.  


A person wearing a red cape kneeling in foggy woods

Little Red Riding Hood

We all know this story by heart as the fairy tale where the little girl overcomes the big bad wolf to live happily ever after. While it seems very tame there is a deeper and darker history behind this fairytale. The origins of “Little Red Riding Hood” go all the way back to the 10th century where it was told by the poor. We all know the original story with the wolf dressing as the grandmother and a lumberjack comes to the rescue.

However, the original was much more scary than that watered down version. In one of the originals, the wolf is actually an ogre. But instead of the wolf chowing down, in this story it’s Little Red Riding Hood herself! She “mistakes her grand mother’s teeth for rice, body for steak, and blood for wine. Little Red then crawls into bed with the awaiting ogre and is eaten herself.


A woman dressed as Cinderella in a foggy forest


This is a story of true love and overcoming all odds. We all fell for the idea of finding out glass slipper, however, in the original version it’s not that pretty. We all know the Disney version where the glass slipper fits perfectly on Cinderella’s awaiting foot.

However, in Grimm’s version of Cinderella, the step-sisters cut off chunks of their feet in order to fit into the slipper. To make things more disgusting, their eyes are eventually taken out by doves. Not the fairytale ending for them it seems.  


Blurry image of woman that looks like a mermaid under water

The Little Mermaid

Such a classic set to great music and loveable characters in the movie version of the tale. However, the original version by Hans Christian Anderson was not so joyful. In the Disney version we see Ariel change into a human and marry her sweet Eric to live happily ever after.

In the original story the mermaid sees her prince marrying another princess. She is then presented with a knife to kill her prince if she so chooses. However, the mermaid decides to jump back into the ocean where she dies by transforming into a frothy substance. Not everything is magical under the sea you see.   


Woman dressed in all black with a black cape holding out a red apple.

Snow White

We are all familiar with the Disney version of Snow White and the adorable Seven Dwarves. The magic mirror, wicked stepmother, The Prince, love’s first kiss . . . it’s a story that we’ve adored for generations.  

In the original story, however, the wicked Queen is not her stepmother, but her biological mother.  In the tale depicted by the Brothers Grimm the queen sends hunters to bring back Snow White’s lungs and liver so that she may cook and eat them. If that wasn’t gruesome enough, her mother actually decides to attend Snow White’s wedding at the end. As a gift to her mother Snow White presents her with a pair of iron shoes that have been heated. The Queen puts on the shoes and unknowingly dances herself to death as her feet burn. A fitting ending for a woman that wanted to eat her organs for sure.  


A long braid like Rapunzel's hair hanging out of a castle window


In the story that we all know and love the princess is kept in a tower by a witch who uses her hair to go in and out of the tower. One day a charming prince comes along and the two (after some drama) end up living happily ever after.

In the original, however, the reason that Rapunzel ends up living with the witch is because of her father. The watch caught her father stealing from her garden and in lieu of meeting the witch’s wrath, he hands over his daughter. The prince still uses Rapunzel’s hair to climb in and out of the tower, however, they were only caught by the witch after Rapunzel became pregnant. Angry because of the pregnancy the witch cuts Rapunzel’s hair off and after luring the prince to the tower with it she pushes him from the top. After the prince lands in a thorn bush the witch then gouges his eyes out. The story does end on a happy note where Rapunzel’s tears heals his eyes . . . and they live happily ever after.  


A wooden boy puppet and skeleton behind window


It’s a story with many great lessons and lovable characters. Pinocchio, Geppetto, Jiminy Cricket, Figaro, and many more. In the classic version that we call know Pinocchio has a happy ending where the fairy waves her wand and turns him into a real boy!

In the original version things are not quite as happy. After running away, police then imprison the puppet maker believing that he had brutally abused the puppet at some point. Distraught, Pinocchio ends up returning to the puppet makers house. Once there he kills the cricket and ends up hanging himself. While the original writer wanted to end the story there, his editors requested that he provide an alternate ending. That’s where the fairy in the story comes in and revives the puppet.    

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