The Importance of Fairy Tales
My first memory of really connecting to fairy tales was on a camping trip with my family. I was lucky enough to grow up in a day when families would drive to their destination on vacations and stay at campgrounds instead of hotels. I have covered many miles crammed in a back seat with my sister, playing the alphabet game and singing along to my parents’ 8-tracks! Our nights were spent at either barren KOAs or lushly wooded campgrounds, huddled around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and listening to someone read from a worn library copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
I have believed in their magic ever since. 🙂
Many adults don’t read fairy tales, saying they are too old for them. This is sad. Even more sad is that many parents are not reading them to their kids because they think they are too scary.
I found this article by Melissa Taylor and completely agree with her reasons why fairy tales are important for kids and adults alike. They create a common culture and teach story. They show kids how to handle problems and teach critical thinking. Other articles, like this one in the Scottish Book Trust, agree. They teach kids right from wrong. Even scarier tales teach kids morality and consequences.
In most fairy tales, good wins over evil. This is especially true in the Disney and Pixar versions. In Grimm, that is not always the case. Kids get eaten! The witch wins. And that is just the way of the world. Maybe that is not a bad lesson to learn. While I love Disney and Pixar, I don’t think that fairy tales should be sugar-coated. Let’s not paint over the original version to make it more palatable for those who would protect kids from the world.
And ultimately that is what these tales represent – the world. If you need a house, you better build one with good materials or it won’t protect you. If you make a deal with a sorcerer, you have to be willing to pay the price. Nothing is free. Nothing is without consequence. Every path you choose comes with a price.
One of my favorite types of stories to read are fairy tales remixed. I love when characters from one tale meet and interact with those in another. Maybe this is why I immediately fell in love with the ABC series, Once Upon a Time. Maybe this is why I love Harry Potter and other fantasies that weave pieces of other stories into a richer tapestry.
On my journey as a reader and book collector, I have acquired many volumes of fairy tales. Some I have read cover to cover repeatedly; others I have opened up at random and picked up words like jewels. For anyone wishing to delve into fairy tales further, you can’t go wrong with Grimm, Charles Perrault, George MacDonald, Oscar Wilde, Hans Christian Anderson, Jack Zipes, and Andrew Lang. These are some of the authors and collectors of these fascinating tales that I will be sharing with you over the next few months.
As much as I love fairy tales and see them as the basis of so many other books, I am amazed I haven’t talked about them more. Read this to see what I have said before. 🙂
I hope that you will enjoy the journey with me. If you are one of those people who think they are just for kids, this one is for you… 🙂 Maybe I can change your mind.