Fairytales have been a fundamental part of children’s childhoods for generations, with the first recorded fairytale, Aesop’s Fables, dating back to the 6th century BC. From the whimsical forests in Snow White to the wonder of the palace ball in Cinderella, these stories are commonly used as bedtime stories for young children and often play a part in teaching children how to read.
Many of these fairytales even originated from other languages but are now most commonly known by their English title. When it comes to fairytales, we all tend to have our own personal favourites, but which fairytales are the most popular globally?
With each country having its own cultural influences and significant historical stories, we at FlashAcademy® wanted to find out which of these beloved fairytales were favoured in each country around the world, and how popular they were overall. To do this, we used search data analytics to examine how frequently-searched each fairytale was per country in a 12-month period.
The ‘classic’ fairytale princesses
When we think of fairytales, certain stories often spring to mind more than others. In particular, the ‘classic’ princess stories – Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White – are usually the fairytales we remember first. Their beautiful dresses and fantastical castles are certain to be popular with easily-excitable children. But how popular are these stories overseas?
Starting with the quintessential princess story, Cinderella – or Cendrillon as it was originally known when it was published in French in 1697. In terms of which country had seen the most searches for ‘Cinderella’, the Philippines recorded 100 on the index, the highest recorded country for this title. In second place was Ghana with 89 points on the index, followed by Sweden with 86. Interestingly, the UK ranked just 62 on the search index for this popular children’s fairytale in the last 12 months.
Next in this category is Rapunzel – this classic fairytale was originally published in German in 1812. This fairytale was most popular in Paraguay with 100 index points in 12 months. In second place was Nicaragua with 96 points on the index, followed by El Salvador with 92. Interestingly, many of the countries with higher search results for this fairytale were Spanish-speaking.
Sleeping Beauty, originally written in French in 1697, is another iconic princess story that tells the tale of a princess cursed to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into an eternal slumber. This fairytale was the most popular in Nicaragua with 100 index points.
Beauty and the Beast, originally published in 1740 as La Belle et la Bête, recorded the highest number of searches in both the United Kingdom and Ireland, with 100 index points each. This girl-power fairytale was also popular in the Philippines and the United States, with 91 points on the search index each.
Finally, Snow White – or Sneewittchen – was published in German in 1812. This fairytale told the story of the beautiful Snow White, who was unjustly scorned by her wicked stepmother-turned-queen. This story was also popular in Spanish-speaking countries, being most-searched in Mexico, with the country recording 100 search index points, followed by Ecuador with 89 points and El Salvador with 82 points.
Tales of magical beings
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to amaze any child, it’s the idea of magic. Whether it’s a wooden puppet that becomes a real boy, or a mermaid princess that trades in her voice for love, magical beings are something of wonder for all ages. When we think of fairytales that contain magical beings, we could realistically be thinking of any fairytale. However, we defined it specifically with The Frog Prince, Rumpelstiltskin, The Little Mermaid, The Golden Goose, the Three Little Pigs, and Pinocchio.
Firstly, The Frog Prince was originally published in 1812 and was written entirely in German. This fantastical fairytale saw the most searches in Austria with 100 search index points in 12 months. In second place was Hungary with 89 points, followed by Germany with 87 points. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this fairytale remained popular with users of the German language in which it was originally published.
Perhaps one of the most iconic ‘creepy’ fairytales, Rumpelstiltskin (Rumpelstilzchen) was originally written in German and published in 1812. This story describes a mysterious being that weaves straw into gold in exchange for a firstborn child. Rumpelstiltskin recorded the highest number of searches in Trinidad and Tobago with 100 search index points, followed by Jamaica with 80 points and New Zealand with 71.
The Little Mermaid, published in 1837 under the Danish title Den lille havfrue, tells the story of a mermaid princess that falls in love with a human prince and trades her voice in exchange for human legs. This fairytale is the most popular in the United States with 100 index points, followed by Trinidad and Tobago with 88 points.
Next, The Golden Goose – published in German as Die goldene Gans in 1812 – recorded the most searches in Serbia (100 points), followed by Russia (78 points) and Germany (65 searches). This fairytale is a parable on greed, as a man is gifted a magical golden goose with which he attempts to impress a princess.
Perhaps one of the most recognisable traditional British fairytales for parents with young children is the Three Little Pigs. This story tells the tale of three pigs that all build a house each out of different materials in hopes of keeping away the ‘big bad wolf’ that plans to eat them. Interestingly, however, this fairytale was not the most commonly searched in the UK. Instead, it was El Salvador that recorded the highest number of searches (100 points). Following shortly behind were Nicaragua and Guatemala with 80 index points each.
Finally, Pinocchio was first written in 1883 and published in Italian. It should therefore come as no surprise that the country with the highest number of searches for this fairytale was Italy with 100 search index points.
The bedtime stories
Whilst many of us have likely heard all of these fairytales at some point in our lives, there are some that are real stand-outs when we think of fairytales from our childhoods. These stories – including Jack and the Beanstalk, Thumbelina, Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, and Hansel and Gretel amongst others – were often used as bedtime stories for our parents and loved ones to read to us as we fell asleep.
Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood were the most popular in El Salvador with 100 points each, whilst Thumbelina saw the most searches in Russia (100 points).
Puss in Boots scored 100 points on the search index in the United States, meanwhile, Hansel and Gretel scored 100 points in Mexico.
The Snow Queen was the most commonly searched in the UK, with 100 points on the search index. Aladdin, in contrast, was searched more often in Argentina (100 points). The childhood classic The Princess and the Pea scored 100 search index points in Serbia, and the Ugly Duckling was most popular in the Philippines with 100 search index points.
|Philippines||Cinderella, Ugly Duckling|
|Australia||Puss in boots|
|United States||The Little Mermaid, Puss in Boots|
|Trinidad & Tobago||Rumpelstiltskin|
|United Kingdom||Beauty and the Beast, The Snow Queen|
|New Zealand||Puss in Boots|
|Canada||Puss in Boots|
|Isle of Man||Hansel and Gretel|
|Jamaica||The Ugly Duckling|
|Ireland||Beauty and the Beast|
|Puerto Rico||Puss in Boots|
|South Africa||The Ugly Duckling|
|Singapore||Puss in Boots|
|Bahrain||The Ugly Duckling|
|United Arab Emirates||Puss in Boots|
|Thailand||The Snow Queen|
|Germany||The Frog Prince|
|Hong Kong||The Frog Prince|
|Georgia||Puss in Boots|
|Austria||The Frog Prince|
|Bangladesh||The Golden Goose|
|Hungary||The Frog Prince|
|Luxembourg||The Frog Prince|
|Denmark||The Princess and the Pea|
|Serbia||The Golden Goose, The Princess and the Pea|
|Switzerland||The Frog Prince|
|Kenya||Puss in Boots|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Rapunzel|
|Bulgaria||Hansel and Gretel|
|Croatia||Hansel and Gretel|
|Lithuania||Puss in Boots|
|El Salvador||Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood|
|Saudi Arabia||Aladdin, Puss in Boots|
|Slovenia||The Frog Prince|
|Israel||Hansel and Gretel|
|Czech Republic||Hansel and Gretel|
|China||The Frog Prince|
|Mexico||Snow White, Hansel and Gretel|
|Iran||Jack and the Beanstalk|
|South Korea||The Frog Prince|
|Taiwan||The Frog Prince|
Through our research of search trend analytics, we were able to identify which countries childhood fairytales were the most popular in. Reading stories to children and sharing stories across different languages is not a new concept, and these fairytales have helped to build a foundation for children to begin learning about other languages and cultures even in their early years. Whilst many of these stories are now primarily read in English, particularly within majority-English-speaking countries, such as the UK and the US, it is still interesting to see that these stories that were originally written in other languages are being shared and enjoyed all over the world.
We conducted research using search volume data from Ahrefs between January 2022 and January 2023 to determine which children’s fairytale is the most commonly-searched per country using the search volume rating index of 1-100, with 100 points highlighting that the majority of the country has searched for this term and 1 point meaning that very few have searched.