Many of us fell asleep listening to the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears told by our parents. And so did they, our grandparents, and probably the generation before, too. Along with lessons about consideration for other people’s property, the book is a great starting point for many discussions about nature.

goldilocks and the three bears - the bears coming homeThe Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears

The Goldilocks and the Three Bears book and The Story of the Three Bears are both inspired by an old and well-known English fairy tale published in 1837.

The original tale features three bears who lived together deep into the woods. It tells of a woman who is looking for shelter and finds their house. As the original author Robert Southey puts it, the woman’s shames her family. They think she’s dirty, ugly, and irresponsible. The bears, however, behave in trusting ways. The bears act in a hospitable and warm-hearted manner. The woman breaks into their home, eats their food, and falls asleep on their bed. Later, they wake her up. She jumps through the window and disappears into the woods.

However, the present-day story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is much more kid-friendly. It’s a wonderful tale written for children between 3 and 7 years old. Along with a well-written narrative that enchants children, it also teaches valuable life lessons.

The Storyline

In the modern version, the woman is replaced by a little blond girl named Goldilocks. Shegoes on a stroll through the woods and finds the bears’ house.

Unlike the original story in which the three bears were just differently sized creatures, the modern plot transformed them into a bear family. There is  Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear. The girl tries out porridge from their three bowls but decides to eat Baby Bear’s portion since it had the perfect temperature for her. She tests out the chairs and discovers that Baby Bear’s chair is the best one for her. Unfortunately, it breaks when she sits down in it.

So, Goldilocks continues to walk around the house and curiously inspect her surroundings when she finds three differently-sized beds. These, of course, she tries out immediately. Yet again, Goldilocks finds that Baby Bear’s things are just perfect for her: The bed is so comfortable that she immediately falls asleep. Meanwhile, the Bear family comes home and find their food partially or completely eaten, someone has moved or destroyed their chairs, someone has unmade their beds. Upon hearing the Bear family, Goldilocks wakes up, jumps out of the bed, and runs away, frightened.

the story of goldilocks and the three bears - goldilocks running away

What Our Children Understand

They way children interpret and react to this story highly depends on us, as parents. We’re sure you read this before, but we want to emphasize this aspect: Children act like sponges. They absorb information quicker than any adult, which is a resource parents need to take advantage of when educating their children.

Subjects of Discussion After Reading the Book to Your Child

Parents can use The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to introduce children to basic philosophy. By emphasizing the importance of respect for other’s possessions, this narrative offers a practical example of what children should not do when visiting or borrowing other people’s property.

The story is a good starting point for a discussion about entitlement. Goldilocks always seems to crave more of the things that do not belong to her – up to the point that she tests out the amenities she finds in the Bear family’s house and chooses the one that fits her best.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears makes for a great ice breaker for discussing environmental awareness with children. After all, the Bear family is just like yours: There’s a Mama, a Papa, and a Baby. They live happily in their house and spend quality time together. Unfortunately, others have endangered their “neighborhood.” Furthermore, people like Goldilocks regularly trespass on their property and steal their food and destroy their habitat. You can also underline the values of informed choices. You can emphasize the importance of getting to know a person (or an animal) before labeling them in a certain way.

bears standing on their back legs

If you feel like your child got the wrong idea or only focuses on a single aspect of the multiple directions the book takes, you can try these out:

  • Did you ever happen to find someone using your belongings without permission? How did that make you feel?
  • Are there any exceptional situations when you can use someone else’s things without getting in trouble? When does this happen and why?
  • Would it be okay to do what Goldilocks did if you didn’t have anything? What else could you do?
  • What would you have done if you were Goldilocks? Wouldn’t you be curious about what’s inside a house you find in the woods?
  • How do you think the Bear family felt about what Goldilocks did?
  • Do you think Goldilocks should have been afraid of the Bear family?
  • Do you think Goldilocks was sorry about what she did?
  • Is being sorry and being afraid the same thing in this situation?

Ultimately, this story is a good ice breaker if you suspect your child is facing issues with boundaries or respecting other people’s property.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears Merchandise

goldilocks and the three bears costume

The group costume of all four characters is a popular item inspired by this tale Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears story. This makes for a great family Halloween costume. The whole family team can stroll around and demonstrate the bear’s peacefulness and good nature of the original bears in the story. And If you are a family of only three, leaving out Goldilocks wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

All in all, the book Goldilocks and the Three Bears does a great job at introducing the basic notions of how to behave in society. It’s also great for teaching empathy and respect for wild animals and their habitats. And no child is too young to start learning about that.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.