Feed children’s imaginations with fairy tales

Fairy tales have been around since the early 17th century, say some “experts,” while other historians and anthropologists link “Beauty and The Beast” back four thousand years. Suffice to say, fairy tales have been around a very long time.
Psychology Today reported in 2014 that fairy tales are told in all languages, from Arabic to Zulu, the details differing, but the common link is our sense of humanity, of right and wrong, with good and evil separated completely.
Children acting out fairy tales, preferably at age six said The University of Hawaii relying on evidence from a Moscow study, because acting the story assures the children it is make-believe and yet the lessons are fundamental to their development.
Any younger and children can’t discern the difference between make-believe and reality and much older then it is too make-believe for children to play the role and the message can be lost; generalizations of course.
Keep in mind that when the Brothers Grimm were creating their collection of ancient fairy tales and retelling them, Germany had just recovered from the Thirty Years War, which claimed the lives of a third of the population, leaving the survivors battling disease and famine.
So stepparents and early death were a fact of life, common even.
Fairy tales, according to the Scottish Book Trust, teach children the difference between right and wrong, allow children to develop “critical thinking” to work out solutions to the puzzles and conundrums that life guarantees.
These tales feed a child’s imagination, which is a key factor in healthy development and they help children to deal with and manage their own emotions.
Stories like Hansel and Gretel taught children they could be their own heroes, that they could outsmart an evil witch who had dietary plans for the two siblings.
Red Riding Hood didn’t have a super hero rush in and save the day, not until somewhere along the line someone decided every girl should be a damsel in distress, needing a Prince Charming to right the wrong.
Disney has been credited and criticized for romanticizing fairy tales, for glamming them up, and having heroines and heroes and damsels in distress with one very common trait, being white.
The main point about fairy tales is allowing children the opportunity to hear them repeated over and over long before they learn to read themselves.
It provides a meaningful connection between children and their parents and goes a long way in fostering an imagination that leads to a love of words and stories and later reading.
Children can work through their own urges to do harm while safely cradled in their parents’ laps.
It will be the creative minds that find solutions to problems we face in this century.
It will be those children who imaginations were fed, not starved to save dollars in education, a point we should never lose sight of.
wendistewart@live.ca

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