This question, about whether the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a better tale for children than the tale of the Rainbow Fish, made absolutely no sense to me … as either a parent or a political science professor.
As near as I can tell, The Rainbow Fish is a story about sharing. At first, the fish doesn’t want to share his extravagant rainbow scales and the other non-rainbow fish don’t want to play with him because he’s mean about it. Then he learns the virtues of sharing, shares some scales, and everyone is happy.
Rudolph, as I understand it, was originally a character in a Montgomery Ward coloring book, designed to save money for the company while also encouraging shopping around the holidays. A reindeer was mocked for being different and then, when his unusual nose saves Christmas, is no longer teased by the other reindeer.
One can, of course, see whatever sorts of political messages one wants in stories such as these. The conservative young man who sent me the question is apparently very concerned about socialism for some reason and so he believes a story about sharing somehow promotes collectivism (which the author explicitly says isn’t the case). As a Jew who has no attachment to or association with Rudolph, I believe a story about a flying reindeer who saves Christmas by helping Santa get presents to all the good boys and girls promotes the commodification of a religious holiday (which it pretty clearly was intended to do).
I teach my kids about sharing pretty much constantly. I also talk to them all the time about being themselves and not worrying about what others are doing. The two ideas aren’t in tension … unless your politics need them to be for some reason.