The years between 1881 and 1893 are examined in order to highlight a part of the complexity which characterized the cultural passage which led people’s and children’s public, in the early unified Italy of the XIX century, from the oral traditional of telling tales to the reading of books and newspaper. In 1881, on the page of the firts issue of children’s magazine «Giornale per i Bambini», appeared Storia di un burattino by Carlo Collodi, and in 1893 Le novella della nonna by Emma Perodi was published. Between these two dates, the first fairy tales for children by Luigi Capuana were also published in the collection C’era una volta… (1882). Questions make it possible to distinguish the plain theme of the telling and /or reading aloud by a person to others. In the chosen works we can notice the constancy of authors in identifying, in a literary manner, the value of the participation in the storytelling, following the threads of reminiscence or, in the modern way, of reading. In the age of modernity, reading starts to alternate with, or replace, the traditional telling of tales. In addition, the artistic manipulation that represents the traditional teller (at the vigil or in a domestic environment in any case) really fascinated Luigi Capuana, who expanded – in the preface of his first collection – profound thoughts about the role of writing in the recovery of traditions and folklore, which the writer had to tell also to the “tiny children public”. But we must not forget other authors, such as Emma Perodi and her tales Le novella della nonna. Fascinated, just like Capuana, by the demo-psychology, furthermore she was friend of the famous Sicilian historian of folklore Giuseppe Pitrè. Addressing the popular and especially the children’s public, who lived in Italy in the age of King Umberto, her work had a large impact because it was based on a sort of “cosmetic literature”, i. e. hiding the anthropological pattern under a literary realism suggested by Boccaccio’s tradition.