City College of New York
The importance of Fairy Tales to the healthy development of a child
Reading is fundamental. This is one of the very first lessons that most children are taught as they begin learning things. When introducing a child to reading, the goal is to appeal to their imagination, which is what is used to make their decisions at such a young age. This is where fairy tales come into play. Most children are introduced to fairy tales before they even learn to read, as their parents would read them bed time stories about enchanting places with princes and princesses, kings and queens, magic and trickery etc. Naturally, at such an impressionable age, the idea of hearing stories about things beyond what they see in their everyday life excites them. Their imagination goes wild as they attempt to formulate their own images of the described characters in their heads, allowing them to personalize these characters into images that they can either relate to indefinitely, or into images of their exact opposite for characters of no relation.
Fairy tales are very important to the development of children because of the several lessons one can learn from reading them. They show kids how to handle problems. Most fairytales a written in the format of problem and solution. Children are able to learn something from the characters because they connect their own lives, dreams, and anxieties as they read and consider what they would do in the characters’ shoes. Fairy tales also help children build emotional resiliency. Real life issues are often presented in a fantastical scenario where normally the hero/heroine triumphs. This allows children to learn that it is possible for bad things to happen to everyone, but also helps them understand that there is always a solution and bad times never last. By reading fairy tales they are able to build their emotional muscles so that they are able to manage when the experience tough times in real life. (Taylor, 2012) The development of a child’s imagination is very important for their everyday lives, not only at that age but also as they grow older. A healthy imagination constitutes abstract thinking, which leads to innovative ideas. Picture this, a doctor who was exposed to fairy tales as a child has a healthy imagination and therefore, when presented with a medical issue that seems impossible, he remembers that nothing is impossible. As a result, said doctor’s imagination inspires abstract thinking which allows him to come up with a new way to treat the medical issue which he tries and it works. (Moseley, 2015) This is the beauty of a healthy imagination.
One of the greatest reasons why fairy tales are just as important as more scholarly literature, is the fact that it teaches life lessons. The enchantment and wonder makes it easy for children to grasp the idea of these life lessons, which they carry with them for years to come. A stories like The Little Mermaid teach children to be true to who they are. One should never try to change themselves to become some impossible ideal. The Little Mermaid did everything in her power to achieve the impossible and change herself to the human ideal in order to attract the prince’s love. In the end, he married someone else and she was trapped for 300 years before she would be granted passage into heaven. This story also teaches children to accept the consequences of their own actions. This is displayed when The Little Mermaid, instead of killing the prince in order to return to the ocean, she accepted her fate and suffered the consequences of what she had done, thus setting an example for any child who would read the story. Beauty and the Beast taught one of the most beautiful stories of all, “Love can be found in the most unexpected places.” In this day and age, many persons are more concerned with one’s outer appearance and what material things they may have to offer, as opposed to being concerned with that person’s heart and personality. Beauty and the Beast taught the lesson of looking on the inside. When Beauty took the place of her father, she just expected the beast to kill her. He has such a monstrous appearance, that it was never expected for him to ever find love. The spell that was cast on the prince to teach him humility also teaches kids to always be kind because one with a nasty personality could be viewed as just that by the outside world; a beast. Nonetheless, after spending so much time with the beast, who was now a humbled and tender soul, Beauty fell in love with him, not for his riches, and despite his hideous appearance, because of what he was on the inside. Cinderella teaches kids patience and forgiveness. The plot of the story shows a young girl, no matter what trials she was presented with, staying true to herself. She stayed patient through everything and in the end she emerged on top. After her step-mother and step-sisters tried to hard to keep her down, she rose above and with grace, won the heart of the prince. Even after she did, she never turned her back on her sisters who had treated her so terribly. Instead, she forgave them and helped them achieve happiness as well. (Palko, 2007)
Fairy tales are an easy way to teach children the basics of story telling/writing. They are able to easily understand setting, characters, plot, and not to mention the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Reading fairytales not only helps children understand those stories, but they are able to expand their vocabulary, think critically, make predictions, and comprehend other stories he/she may read. (Taylor, 2012)
Cultural appreciation is another practice promoted by fairytales. This is one of the most important lessons they can teach considering the high level of cultural diversity there is in the world today. At a young age, children are not concerned with the color of one’s skin, nor their cultural identity. Reading fairytales allows kids to have an insight of the differences between their culture and the culture of others. (Bellamy, 2015)
The development of a child can be influenced by many different factors. There’s the influence of family, peers, television, and importantly, stories. Though it can be said that the the majority of these factors do not contribute to the effective development of a child, the evidence presented in this paper proves why fairy tales do. The wide range of lessons that can be learned from these stories encompass a large part of the qualities needed for healthy mental development.