Tales we tell

the portrayal of mothers in four popular children’s fairy tales and the influence on reading

  • Sibhekinkosi Anna Nkomo University of the Witwatersrand
  • Aaliya Kimmie University of the Witwatersrand


Foundation Phase teachers need a wide, updated knowledge of children’s literature and other texts to ignite learners’ love for reading. Research shows that not much is being done to expand teachers’ knowledge and expose them to a variety of children’s literature. Thus, guided by a social semiotic theory, four popular fairy tales were selected for analysis. The qualitative content analysis focused on how mothers are portrayed in fairy tales, as mothers are considered the child’s primary caregivers in many contexts. The findings of the study show that there is a dichotomous representation of mothers, where on the one hand, they can be seen as nurturing and loving and on the other hand, they can be seen as wicked and cruel. The implications of the findings suggest that it is important for teachers to be aware of what learners are reading so that they can advise and recommend relevant books. It is recommended that parents and teachers make thoughtful decisions about the kinds of texts they offer to young children. Children’s literature authors need to be mindful of the messages they convey through texts and visuals as research suggests that repetitive stereotypical messages nurture lasting impressions on children.


Download data is not yet available.
Research Articles