Little Red Riding Hood is a timeless tale written by the Brother’s Grimm. The edition that I read is retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. The illustrations really add to the overall comprehension and interest of the book, and the story is told in a manner that introduces key vocabulary words to young learners. Additionally, the story contains important morals and lessons for children to learn.
At the beginning of the story, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother gives her a loaf of fresh bread, some butter, and a bottle of wine to take to her grandmother, who is sick in bed. Little Red Riding Hood promises her mother that she will not stray off the path or run, and that she will use her manners when she gets to her grandmother’s house. During the half hour walk through the forest to her grandmother’s house, Little Red Riding hood encounters a wolf, with whom she interacts with her best manners. What she doesn’t know, however, is that the wolf believes Little Red Riding Hood will be a “plump morsel” for dessert after he eats the old woman. He thinks cleverly about the best way to trick the duo.
The wolf distracts Little Red Riding Hood by enticing her with the beautiful flowers in the forest. Meanwhile, the wolf scurries to the grandmother’s house and pretends to be the granddaughter. When Little Red Riding Hood finally arrives at her grandmother’s house, the wolf has already eaten the grandmother, put on her nightgown and gotten into her bed! After the classic interactions of “What big, hairy ears you have grown!” and “Why do you have such big, sharp teeth?” the wolf gobbles up Little Red Riding Hood! The story ends with a huntsman coming across the home and cutting open the wolf’s stomach to save the grandmother and her granddaughter.
This story might definitely frighten some young readers, but it also teaches a lesson about following directions and staying on track. Little Red Riding Hood becomes distracted in the forest, and as a result, she gets eaten! It is very unrealistic, but contemplative nonetheless. Additionally, at the end of the book the author explicitly states that Little Red Riding Hood is comforted by the fact that she was polite and used good manners with the wolf.
The vocabulary in this book is important to note, because many words might need to be further explained to young learners in order to teach them and broaden their vocabulary breadth.Words such as “ferns,” “latch,” “shawl,” and “huntsman” are examples of specific words that children might not be aware of before reading this book.
Lastly, the illustrations in the story are beautifully drawn and come across as sketch-like. The wolf is depicted in a scary way, which might contribute to the fear that children have of him. Each page of the story that contains text has a border with a grandmotherly, classic pattern. The illustrations contain many details that children could spend lots of time focusing on while they digest the story.
Little Red Riding Hood is truly a classic, traditional book to introduce to young children. It not only teaches a lesson about strangers and who not to trust, but also contains themes of familial love and devotion.
By Emma Cohen