Character Study: Celebrating 8 Unique Cinderella Stories

Inside: Eight unique Cinderella stories and why they are perfect for a character study

I grew up with the classic Cinderella. She was mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, blessed with a Fairy Godmother, and swept away by a handsome prince.

Now, so much has changed.

These changes bring up many questions.

  • Was Cinderella the annoying one?
  • Does Cinderella know how to fix spaceships?
  • Was Cinderella an elephant?

Since I started teaching second grade 8 years ago, I feel compelled to add at least one new version of this classic tale to my library each year. Every time, I get the same butterflies in my stomach as I wait to share the new version with my students.

Why Use Cinderella Stories?

Fractured fairy tales are a great way to boost comprehension. They are full of surprises and connections. Cinderella stories, in particular, have so many versions you never know what to expect.

This classic fairy tale has been told and retold many times with many different perspectives. Here are my top three reasons to do a character study using Cinderella stories.

  1. Some versions teach about different cultures.
  2. Some versions tell the classic story from a different point of view
  3. Some versions guarantee to fill your class with laughter
You will find a castle in most Cinderella stories, but definitely not all!
Welcome to Cinderella’s World – Just don’t always expect a castle!
Illustration by Let’s-Get-Creative

So Many Cinderellas

Below, I have provided a list of my eight favorite Cinderella stories along with traits that make each version unique.

The focus of this post is on character study. However, you can use these different Cinderella stories to teach a variety of standards.

  • Comparing and contrasting
  • Point of view
  • Plot
  • The Importance of Setting
  • Character traits
  • Moral/theme

*The Cinderella stories below do include affiliate links. To the delight of my students, I have used all of them in my classroom.

Bonus: At the end of this post, you can sign up for FREE activities that will help you put the suggestions above into action.

Interstellar Cinderella

Use this book in your character study to show how Cinderella would be if she were a mechanic
What? Cinderella doesn’t want to marry the prince?!

In this version, Cinderella trades in dreams of marrying a handsome prince for dreams of fixing rockets.

Cinderella’s stepsisters will not let her go to the Interstellar Ball with the broken rocket. Knowing Cinderella’s abilities, they stole her tools.

Cinderella’s fairy godrobot comes to the rescue with a toolkit and a fancy spacesuit. However, when Cinderella meets the prince, he is in crisis. His rocket is on fire!

Cinderella fixes the rocket, causing the prince to fall in love. At midnight, there’s no glass slipper left behind. Instead, it’s a socket wrench. The prince eventually finds his true love, only to have his proposal turned down.

No biggie. The prince hires Cinderella as his chief mechanic. The modern woman in me can’t help but be filled with pride about this Cinderella’s decision!

Character Traits: determined, independent, self-sufficient

Prince Cinders

A prince replaces Cinderella in this hilarious version of the classic fairy tale.
Prince Cinders went through a LOT to get his princess!

Prince Cinders gets mistreated in much the same way as Cinderella. However, he was not as fortunate with his fairy. She mixes everything up from giving him a swimsuit to turning him into a monkey! The story gets crazier when you find out how the princess falls for Prince Cinders.

To top it off, lost trousers replace the glass slippers! This book guarantees laughs from students of all ages.

Character Traits: unlucky, hard-working, gullible

Korean Cinderella

A great book with magical elements
Magical creatures are the heroes in this version.

The stepmother and stepsister in this story are about as mean as they can be, calling Pear Blossom a piglet and threatening to take her to market. Students immediately sympathize with Pear Blossom commenting, “They are so mean!”

Instead of a fairy godmother coming to the rescue, it’s magical animals. They perform a variety of tasks that allow Pear Blossom to attend the village festival. There’s no physical transformation here and no midnight “curfew”, but the prince still falls in love and marries his “Cinderella”.

Character Traits: obedient, grateful, truthful


This book follows the original storyline with one large exception. Cinderella is an elephant.

This adds touches of humor that are nowhere to be found in the original story. For added flavor, the stepsisters are warthogs and the fairy godmother is a tiny mouse.

The illustrations add to the humor. The picture of a warthog trying on an elephant’s shoe gets laughs out of my students every time.

Character Traits: clumsy, self-assured, adaptable

‘Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal

A worldwide story about Cinderella

Get ready for a journey around the world in this version of Cinderella. The story remains true to the original version. However, you will find a wide variety of cultures represented.

Some examples of different cultures are:

  • To keep Cinderella from going to the palace, she had to separate an apronful of lentils from ashes (Germany).
  • A crocodile delivered a sarong made of gold (Indonesia).
  • Cinderella’s ball outfit included diamond anklets (India).

In total, there are 17 cultures represented in the book. For each cultural reference, the country is written off to the side. This is a great way to share some traditions from around the world.

Try it – Have your students share connections with different places in the book. They can also share how they would make changes based on their cultures.


Cinder-elly meets her prince at a basketball game.
A bonus lesson on forgiveness!

The setting for this more modern version of Cinderella is New York City. Instead of going to meet the prince at the ball, the girls try to meet the prince at a basketball game. Sporty Cinder-Elly wins over the prince, AKA basketball star, by catching a stray ball and throwing it back on the court.

You may wonder, “Who would wear a glass slipper to a basketball game?” Well, no one. Cinder-Elly wore glass sneakers, of course.

At the stroke of 10:00, Cinder-Elly loses her outfit and bike. Get ready to hear students pronounce, “You’re not a fairy!” when she tries to get them back!

Character Traits: tomboy, forgiving, clean

The Rough-Face Girl

The tragedy for the rough-faced girl began when her sisters forced her to stay by the fire, causing burns and scars to form on her face and body.

The sisters were both beautiful and determined to marry the “invisible being”. However, his true match is identified as the only woman who can see him.

The students will call out the sisters on their lies as they try to marry the Invisible Being. They will be equally surprised at the Rough-Face girl’s correct responses as she wins his heart.

With this, her burns and scars are cured, and she marries the Invisible Being.

Character Traits: humble, creative, self-confident

Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying

No more feeling sorry for Cinderella!

This Cinderella story is told from the stepmother’s point of view. Her stance is that Cinderella simply talked way too much. This combined with her speediness when it comes to chores is the reason she did all the housework.

All that talking eventually led to Cinderella losing her voice. The stepmother certainly couldn’t send Cinderella to the ball sick.

It’s a “mystery” how Cinderella gets to the ball, and the stepmother is stunned. The story ends similarly to the original. The big difference is the stepmother has nothing but sympathy for the prince.

Character Traits: annoying, chatty, efficient

Cinderella Character Study

Cinderella is a character worth celebrating. Except when she’s being annoying, of course.

Try introducing some new Cinderella stories to your class, regardless of the grade level. Use the different character traits to your advantage and try some of these activities.

  • State the trait and have students find the evidence
  • Compare traits in different books
  • Connect positive traits to yourself or someone you know
  • Put each Cinderella in a situation and ask students how they would handle it
  • Give the character advice and explain how you think they would respond.
  • Ask questions and have students respond as different versions of Cinderella
  • Divide a paper into four (or more) sections and have students draw a celebration specific to different Cinderellas
  • Play charades, Taboo, or other guessing game where students need to pick the Cinderella

A Deeper Dive

When you’re looking to go deeper to check comprehension, nothing beats graphic organizers. The five free fractured fairy tale organizers below are perfect for Cinderella stories.

As a bonus, I included a STEM activity to supplement your fairy tale unit.

By filling out the form below, you will have all of these items delivered straight to your inbox.

  • A Venn diagram to compare and contrast different fairy tales
  • An organizer to help explain the importance of the setting, whether it’s in the woods, ocean, or outer space
  • An organizer to describe characters from the naive little fish to the sly wolf
  • A comparison chart to look at a variety of different versions of a fairy tale.
  • An organizer to show the unique pop of magic in each fairy tale.
  • BONUS: A STEM activity with paper airplanes – a surefire winner for your students!

Do you have a favorite Cinderella story? If so, please leave it in the comments below.

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Teaching blogger for elementary teachers

Mary Wingert, licensed educator (K-12 Special Ed. & 1-8 General Ed)

I started teaching in 1993.   I have taught special education, fifth grade, and fourth grade.  I moved to second grade in 2015, and I am still there today.  

I believe in teaching strategies that are effective, differentiated, and engaging. I am looking forward to building a community of teachers who feels the same!  Read more here.