“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein.
Fairy tales, gripping, magical and inspiring, are master narratives. Children subconsciously recall their messages as they grow older, and are forced to cope with real injustices and contradictions in their lives. Some fairy tales are based on legends that incorporated a spiritual belief of the culture in which they originated, and were meant to emulate truth. Here we look at five reasons why fairy tales are in fact great for children.
- They boost a child’s imagination and cultural literacy
A child’s imagination is a powerful and unique thing. It’s not only used to make up stories and games, it’s a key factor in their creative thoughts and can define the type of education, career, and life they have. With this imagination comes a cultural literacy; fairy tales often include different cultures and ways of doing things. They teach children about cultural differences in the world outside their own gifting them a curiosity to learn new things and experience new places.
- They teach differentiating between right and wrong
Standing strongly within fairy tales of magic horses and glass slippers is a moral backbone. It’s in a fairytale’s DNA to have a strong moral lesson, a fight between good & evil, love and loss, and these lessons rub off on our children.
Fairy tales help to teach children an understanding of right and wrong, not through direct teaching, but through implication. They can also help children to understand that good will always triumph and, while this may not be true in aspects of the real world, the lesson is simple and important. Be the hero, not the villain. Learn to hope for better.
- They develop critical thinking skills
Following on from the last point fairy tales teach children critical thinking. They see the consequences of characters decisions and learn that what will happen to them depends on the choices they make. Not all characters can be good role models, even ‘the goodies’ can be damsels in distress, or reckless (or feckless) princes. What the stories do teach though, is that when bad things happen, you have decisions to make. If you make the right ones, everything might just turn out OK.
- They can help children deal with emotions themselves
Not only do fairy tales prepare our kids for society and making moral decisions, they teach them how to deal with conflict within themselves. Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, who specialized in the importance of fairy tales in childhood, believed that fairy tales can aid children in dealing with anxiety they are, as yet, unable to explain. In fairy tales, children are often the main character and more often than not will win the story’s evil. Readers can relate to this and find a fairy tale hero in themselves. Watch any Pixar film for guidance on this one.
- And finally, they are great fun!
Power of imagination leads children disappearing into another world where dragons fly and princes fight or pretty princesses wearing lovely dresses are dancing with handsome princes. Their excitement can be overwhelmed when you present book of fairytales like the latest Harry Potter book. When they play games based on fairytales they have great amusement and enhance their creativity, as well.
Whether it’s for indirect moral lessons, improving their imaginations or because your child can’t put that book down reading fairy tales should be encouraged. Read them together, help your kids invent their own and make sure they know can win against any wicked witch.