“A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”
What comes to mind when you read these magical words? A pumpkin transformed into a carriage? A servant girl’s small foot fitting perfectly into a delicate glass slipper? That same girl being morphed into a beautiful princess as her jealous and wicked stepsisters look on with contempt?
If so, then you must be familiar with one of the most famous versions of “Cinderella.” But this version is by no means the first or only. In fact, the original Cinderella story can be traced all the way back to 9th century China. The story of Ye Shen, China’s Cinderella, began as an oral tradition and has been shared and reshared over 1500 times since then. From Korea to Greece, the Caribbean to England, Egypt to France and even from Native American reservations to Appalachian villages in the United States, the often-retold story of Cinderella has captured the hearts of millions with its common themes of ‘rags to riches,’ ‘good over evil,’ and ‘kindness towards all.’
In this collection of mentor texts, readers will glimpse the diverse and rich cultural traditions, clothing, festivals, landscapes, and values that have found their way into the long history of “Cinderella.” Each version seems to begin with a character who has come upon hard times, and has been mistreated or overlooked. As the story progresses, animals, creatures, and fairy godmothers may play a role in the enchanting transformation that inevitably occurs. Sometimes, it is Cinderella’s own self-reliance and ‘never give up’ attitude that paves the way for her transformation. What is true for all versions, though, is that circumstances that initially seemed dismal and bleak always morph into something magical and hopeful. And…alas, goodness and kindness are eventually rewarded.
Not just a ‘feel good’ story that keeps dreams alive, “Cinderella” also offers a timeless relevance when it comes to today’s social education arena. Whether exploring and embracing “Cinderella,” “Yeh Shen,” or Korea’s “Pear Blossom,” students will learn what it means to be a friend to all, to turn lemons into lemonade, and to persevere despite adversity. They will learn what it takes to make good social decisions. As such, “Cinderella” has become a story for all ages.
You can get 6 different Cinderella mentor text passages and activities already prepped for you HERE.
The American author, Marcia Brown, has translated the classic French tale of Cinderella in this prize-winning picture book! Cinderella’s beauty shines through her rags, intimidating her two jealous stepsisters. Although Cinderella wishes to go to the prince’s ball, her low status prevents her from attending the event. But much to her surprise, Cinderella is visited by a magical fairy godmother who has the power to turn pumpkins into golden carriages, lizards into coachmen, and rags into riches—with the one caveat that the magical spell runs out at the stroke of midnight. Cinderella’s romantic night of dancing with the prince is cut short, but their romance continues as he goes on to search the kingdom to find her once again!
Robert D. San Souci adapted Cendrillon from a traditional Creole tale, creating this Caribbean Cinderella story! Set on the island of Martinique, the story is narrated from the perspective of the magical godmother who retells her plan to help Cendrillon get the love she deserves. Put to work by her tough stepmother, Cendrillon is accustomed to a life of little extravagance. With the help of her godmother, Cendrillon is able to attend the town’s ball where she wins the heart of the handsome host whom she will eventually marry.
Anthony Manna’s spin on Cinderella retells the classic story with a naturalistic storyline wherein Mother Earth replaces the role of the magical godmother. In this Greek Cinderella story, the protagonist is a young, orphaned girl. Her stepmother was spiteful and harsh, counting every drop of water the girl drank! Mother Nature, on the other hand, showers the young orphan with gifts, including offerings from the Sun, Moon, Dawn, and Sea. When the prince comes to visit the village’s church, his eyes and heart are locked on the orphan’s mysterious beauty, even after she rushes out of the service early. The next week, the prince pours honey and wax on the church steps to catch the orphan’s tiny blue shoe upon her exit, ensuring their eventual meeting and future of love.
This Native American adaptation of Cinderella is about a disfigured Algonquin girl who wins the heart of a mysterious being living near her village. The powerful and invisible Being is searching for a wife, and the village girls are all competing for his affection. But only the girl who can truly see him will be his bride. The two pretty and spoiled daughters of a lowly village man yearn to be chosen, but their Rough-Face -Girl sister, scarred from tending fires, is the one woman able to see the Invisible Man.
This southern, swingin’ rendition of Cinderella is set in the Appalachian Mountains, reflected by the lilting dialect of the story that makes for lively read-alouds! Based on Perrault’s classic story, this Appalachian Cinderella deals with wicked stepsisters whose feet are too big to fit the glass slipper, a “real rich feller” named Seb, and a fairy godmother hog! The illustrations and dialect of this picture book make it an extremely entertaining down-south take on Cinderella!
Cinderella Skeleton is as sweet as a ghost can get in this Halloween-themed Cinderella! Her evil stepsisters work Cinderella Skeleton all day, every day. But Prince Charnel’s famous Halloween Ball is coming up, and she will finally have her moment to shine! A good witch transforms Cinderella Skeleton for the occasion, where she steals the heart of the prince. As Cinderella Skeleton dashes away from the ball, the spell begins to lift with the rising sun and Prince Charnel sets out to find his true skeleton love.
Shirley Climo delivers an Egyptian retelling of the age-old Cinderella tale in this beautifully illustrated picture-book. A Greek slave girl named Rhodopis is ridiculed by Egyptian servants because of her abnormal hair and skin coloring. Despite the teasing, Rhodopis demonstrates her eloquent dancing skills, which earns her rose-red slippers from her master. One of her sacred slippers is later stolen by a falcon, who takes the shoe to the Egyptian pharaoh. The Pharaoh vows to find the wearer of the slipper and eventually discovers that Rhodopis’ foot fits perfectly. At the end of the tale, the Pharaoh declares Rhodopis his queen of Egypt, despite her life history as a slave.
This Iraqi version of the Cinderella story is known in Arabic as “The Red Fish and the Clog of Gold.” This Middle Eastern Cinderella tale tells the story of Maha, a fisherman’s daughter, and her troubled relations with her stepmother and stepsister. One day, Maha finds a small, red fish in a basket and releases it back into the water. Maha’s kindness is rewarded as this fish becomes a magical source of help whenever she faces hardship in life. After the fish gifts her with a silken gown and golden sandals, Maha attends a bridal party. On her way home, sweet Maha drops one of her golden sandals into the water, which is later discovered by the brother of the bride, Tariq. Tariq sends his mother to try the sandal on all of the women in town. She eventually finds Maha, despite her stepmother’s attempts to keep her hidden in the bread oven. The stepmother’s antics not only backfire on her, but she also ends up ruining her own daughter’s marriage to Tariq’s brother.
Yeh Shen is one of the world’s first Cinderella stories, published in the 9th century. A kind girl named Yeh Shen shares her small portion of rice with a magical fish. When her cruel stepmother kills and eats the fish, he comes back to help Yeh Shen get ready for a festival where young men and women search for suitors. In fear of being recognized at the festival, Yeh Shen runs away, leaving behind a golden slipper. The king searches for the owner, but no women’s feet are able to fit into the small shoe. Yeh Shen tries to sneak in to take the slipper back, but she’s caught red-handed. Yeh Shen’s identity is revealed as she tries on the slipper for the king, who then marries her.
This Native American Cinderella story tells the tale of a young girl named Sootface who is a member of the Ojibwa tribe. Despite mistreatment from her two older sisters, Sootface quickly discovers that true beauty lies within. A mighty warrior has attracted the women’s attention, but he only wishes to marry a woman who is able to see him when he is invisible. Sootface becomes clothed by the forest and crosses the river to see, and then win, the mysterious warrior’s heart with her kind and honest soul.
This Cinderella story is from the country of England and is based on a scarecrow named Tattercoats. Tattercoats is the granddaughter of a lord who has vowed to avoid looking at her face out of grief for his daughter who died in childbirth. When a prince comes to visit the city, the grandfather goes to meet him and leaves Tattercoats at home. Tattercoats cries to the gooseherd, who brightens her spirit with music. This music attracts the prince to Tattercoats and he ends up falling in love with her. Promising to proclaim his love for her if she shows up to his party, Tattercoats is unsure of what to do. With reassurance from her gooseherd friend, Tattercoats attends the party where the prince announces his love for her and the people rejoice.
This Korean Cinderella story is rich in its cultural infusions of Korean words and illustrated rituals. Pear Blossom lives under the harsh treatment of her jealous stepmother and stepsister who refer to her as “pigling” and dress her in rags. In order to get rid of her beautiful stepdaughter, the stepmother sets Pear Blossom up with a variety of seemingly impossible chores to complete. Despite the purposeful obstacles, a magical force of nature helps Pear Blossom to complete her chores with the help of a frog, a sparrow, and an ox. With her chores completed, Pear Blossom hurries to a local festival and runs into a young nobleman. The nobleman finds Pear Blossom at the party, fitting her foot into her lost slipper. The two are happily married in a great ceremony and live happily ever after.
I hope you found some magical books to use as mentor text for Cinderella! Everyone needs their happily ever after! If you would like to see all the suggested Cinderella Stories List on Amazon, CLICK HERE.
For other suggested Mentor Text on my blog, click: https://rockinresources.com/category/mentor-text