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Folktale Finders

Snow White. Little Red Riding Hood. Sleeping Beauty. What do these
stories have in common? For one thing, they are all fairy tales, which are a
type of folktale. For another, we enjoy them today because of the work of two
brothers, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm.

Jakob was born on January 4, 1785. Wilhelm was born a little more than
a year later on February 24, 1786. The pair grew up in Germany. They were
good students. They studied law and language. The brothers wanted to help
save part of their German culture, so they started collecting fairy tales.

Many of the stories that the Grimm brothers gathered were told orally. This
means that people told the stories to other people. The stories were spoken.
They were not written down. People did not read them from books. Jakob and
Wilhelm wanted to make sure that these stories were not forgotten. In 1807,
they started listening to many stories told by friends and other people they
knew in Germany. They wrote them down. By 1812, they had their first book
of folktales. It had 86 stories. The second book was done in 1815. It had 70
stories. By the time the last book was finished in 1857, there were 210 stories.

The brothers tried to keep the stories the way they heard them but made
some changes along the way. For example, many of the tales were meant for
adults. They were too scary for kids. Changes were made so children could
enjoy these stories.

The brothers spent many years collecting folktales.


But that is not the only work they did. In 1838, they
started writing a dictionary. They only got as far as
the  letter f. Wilhelm died in 1859, and Jakob died
in 1863. The dictionary was not completed until the
middle  1900s.
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / chernov

It has been more than 200 years since the Grimm


brothers finished their first book of folktales, but the
stories they collected are still enjoyed by many.

There is a statue of the Grimm


brothers in Hanau, Germany.
©The Mailbox®
Name Date

Folktale Finders
Use the passage on the other page to help answer each question.
Circle the best answer.

1. Which brother was older? 5. When did the brothers start listening
A. Jakob to the stories?

B. Wilhelm A. 1807
B. 1812

2. Where did the brothers grow up?


A. Germany 6. How many stories were in the first
book of fairy tales?
B. United States
A. 1812
B. 86
3. Why did the brothers start
collecting fairy tales?
A. to be famous 7. True or false? The brothers kept all
the stories just as they heard them.
B. to help save part of their
culture A. true
B. false

4. Which word means that


something is spoken instead 8. What did the brothers start working
of  written? on in 1838?
A. collected A. a statue
B. orally B. a dictionary

Write and Explain:


Do you think Wilhelm and Jakob Grimm were important people? Explain.

©The Mailbox®