Hansel and Gretel Story, Meaning, Activity Links & More


       Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel is a well-known fairy tale of German origin, recorded by the Grimm brothers and originally published in 1812. Hansel and Gretel are a young brother and sister who find themselves abandoned in the forest because of a stepmother who can’t stand them. In the woods, they are threatened by a mean witch who lives deep in the forest in a house made of cake and confectionery. The two children save themselves from being eaten by the witch lives by outwitting her. They also take the witch’s treasure and safely find their way home. The story has been adapted to various media, including opera and motion picture.

The Story of Hansel and Gretel – Meaning and Interpretation

There is more to Hansel and Gretel story than meets the eye at the first glance. It is interesting to note, how frequently the theme of eating appears in the story. For young children, food and eating is a very important aspect of everyday life and often can be the object of many hidden fears. In Hansel and Gretel, the food theme is apparent throughout the story. The children are driven out of the house because the stepmother claims there isn’t enough food. Hansel & Gretel leave a trail of breadcrumbs, but it’s eaten by the birds. The witch’s house made out of gingerbread and the children taste a piece. The witch wants to eat the children, but decides to feed them first to fatten them up. Many common childhood fears are expressed in this tale, from fear of abandonment and hunger to betrayal of trust. The children in this story are betrayed by the grownups they trust – the stepmother, the witch, and even their father who fails to protect them. And yet in the end the courage and resourcefulness of Gretel helps the children to successfully overcome all obstacles and even reap a handsome reward, the witch’s treasure. Despite the many dangers and threats, most children enjoy the thrill of the story of Hansel and Gretel because it offers a hopeful message that perseverance and resilience will overcome any adversary.

Hansel and Gretel Book Links

There are many slightly different versions of the story, below are some links to a number of adaptations available on line.
http://ivyjoy.com/fables/hansel.html – an abridged, simplified version for young kids.
http://www.mordent.com/folktales/grimms/hng/hng.html – the full version of Grimm’s fairy tale.
http://www.childrenstory.info/childrenstories/hanselandgrethel.html – a nicely illustrated, easy to read version.
http://www.shemrock.com/hansel-and-gretel.htm – a clear, simple version and also some activities and fun pages for children.

The Benefits of Reading Hansel and Gretel and Other Children’s Stories

By listening to stories and identifying with the characters, the children learn to identify their own emotions and fears that they haven’t yet learn to express or verbalize. By internalizing the positive messages, such as “courage and kindness overcome adversary and evil”, young children acquire a positive outlook on life and on themselves. Often within a story a child is able to live through his own fear and anxiety and achieve a positive resolution. It is important to carefully select the stories you read for your little ones, to ensure they absorb the right message.

The true Story of Hansel and Gretel

An award winning author Louise Murphy has reinvented the characters of Hansel and Gretel as Jewish children who must survive the dark forest of the war. The book is an extraordinary tail of struggle and survival, of adversary and triumph. It is a story of a terrifying journey full of lurking dangers and threatening shadows. And yet the book leaves the reader with a strong message of hope and survival against all odds. It testifies to the timeless truth that love and courage will always overcome hate and malice. Hansel and Gretel and their parents and all the people they come into contact with, each go through personal transformations and complete an inner journey in addition to the physical passage through the woods.
To order a paperback edition of “The True Story of Hansel and Gretel” by Louise Murphy from Amazon.com, go to the following link:

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Hansel and Gretel’s Timeless Message

Even though the storyline of Hansel and Gretel can seem frightening to very young children, the story’s end reinforces the hopeful message that standing up for yourself in face of challenges can lead you to overcome any obstacle and even gain great treasures. If properly explained, even the very young children can internalize the message of not giving up and persevering even when the odds seem to be against you. The children in the story succeeded to thwart a bigger and a more powerful enemy – the witch. Even the young children can be taught to stand up to adults who reveal menacing or inappropriate intentions towards them. The message of Hansel and Gretel can help instill greater confidence and self-reliance and in our children.



Hansel and Gretel

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       Hansel and Gretel
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