“OK Kids, what shall we read about tonight? Drowning? Starving? Or Burning to Death?

“Mommy, mommy read me a bedtime story please?”  Every child loves bedtime stories right?  What better way to ease into a good nights rest and have sweet dreams than to read a good ‘ol fashion bedtime story.   Well  I’m not so sure that these “Austrian classics” will do just that.  While my husband and I were shopping for new books I came across this one.   “Der Struwwelpter”(Shaggy Peter). The cover looked interesting to me so I investigated only to become horrified at the illustrations it contained.  “Oh that’s a classic storybook.  Every child in Austria grows up with this book” my husband said.  “Let’s buy it”.  Now I’m always up for new adventures, so I considered and thought hey why not scare the kids into behaving properly?  My husband turned out fine and he seems to have no long-lasting psychological issues from his childhood (at least I think so)… let’s give it a go.

The book which became popular after its third edition was published in 1858.  It has 10 life lesson stories which covers topics such as drowning, bullying & teasing other children, consequences of not listening to parents and being blown away forever in a wind storm.  Personally, I find the book so shocking (in the eyes of young children) that it’s comical. I was anxious and curious to see the kids reaction to the book.  The verdict?  A total success.  Kids enjoyed the stories and found the illustrations as funny as I did. Perhaps my giggles while reading along with them had something to do with it.

Here are a few of my kids favourites:

“Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug” (The Dreadful Story of the Matches), a girl plays with matches and burns to death.

In “Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher” (The Story of the Thumb-Sucker), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. However, when she goes out of the house he resumes his thumb-sucking, until a roving tailor appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.

“Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar” (The Story of the Soup-Kaspar) begins as Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy, proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup. Over the next five days he wastes away and dies.

So there you have it parents.  Scare tactic could work for you or could be just “another bedtime” story .

credits  1


About marthamel

I'm a fun loving Canadian that now calls Vienna, Austria home. After a lot of moving around I have experienced some amazing adventures, disaapointing pitfalls and unexpected surprises. Now that I am settled in Europe, I enjoy continuing to enrich my life with culture, sports, and of course eating fantastic food all in the company of great friends & family. Take a look at my blog! www.canadianlivingineurope.wordpess.com View all posts by marthamel

3 responses to ““OK Kids, what shall we read about tonight? Drowning? Starving? Or Burning to Death?

  • becomingcliche

    Nothing like cuddling up with a good book at bedtime. Sleep well, kiddies!

  • Siobhan

    Are they the Hoffman stories? I think they’re great. And the Hillaire Belloc cautionary tales too. Children love to be scared, especially when the stories are as gruesome as this. I much prefer the original fairytales to the sanitized Disney versions, they’re not nearly as much fun!

  • Legner Herbert

    Your comments on “Struwwelpeter” are well written and very interesting.
    As far as I remember I was not shocked by the stories,nor did I learn any-
    thing from them. The things you were not supposed to do were taught
    by grown-ups and by living examples.
    Today’s Videos and CDs show very brutal scenes (some of them taken
    from fairy tales) but I have the impression that children see the funny
    side of the scenes, and they do not absorbe the cruel side (which they
    might carry into the night).

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