The Importance Of Fairy And Folk Tales
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The Importance Of Fairy And Folk Tales

Fairy Tales are more than ancient stories passed down from generation to generation. Thousands of tales are written and published every year. Humans love stories.

Fairy tales began as an oral tradition. The best of them survive today.

During the fifteenth sixteenth and seventeenth century fairy tales were written down. The tales that belonged to the ordinary people were incorporated into a new literary tradition. The tone, style and beliefs in the stories were separated from their source.

Fairy tales and folk tales are a genre in literature.

These stories are fictional and often contain folklore characters such as pixies, fairies, dragons, giants, talking animals and witches. They usually contain some elements of fantasy and enchantment and a sequence of events that are way different from everyday life.

The term ‘it’s a fairy tale’ is used to describe someone’s failure to be in touch with reality. This is not meant as a complement. A fairy-tale ending means everyone lives happily ever after though this isn't always the case in fairy tales (or life for that matter).

Fairy tales can be traced back to the oral traditions and the structure of the stories tends to be similar in the tales of many cultures. Many of the oral traditional stories have been written down and they have sometimes existed for thousands of years.

Structure of a Fairy tale

These magical stories are usually straight to the point and brief. They can be either in prose or verse.

Characters such as animals and birds in the stories are given human qualities.

The story presents a moral lesson to the reader. The moral is often written as a short sentence at the end.

Easily recognised phrases are often used to begin and end a story. For example

  • Once upon a time…….
  • And they all lived happily ever after……..

A fairy story must contain a good and innocent character. He or she is often clever and is helped by others. This character or characters have to contend with an evil character which must be defeated. The main character is often from a poor or lowly background.

Magical things happen in a fairy tale.

All the folk characters such as fairies, elves, goblins and wicked witches and wizards and talking animals have a role to play.

Often number patterns are used to make a point. Things and tasks often come in threes, sixes and sevens.

There are universal experiences that all members of the human race are aware of. Fairy tales often deal with one. For example, the loss of family, lack of love, and good defeating evil are regular themes.

Fairy tales are also a way to show how someone who is poor can triumph over their status in life.

Human strengths and weaknesses feature prominently. Pride always comes before a fall and gluttony and laziness brings the character to a sticky end.

Fairy tales exaggerate life.

It is generally considered that Fairy tales are for children. But many of the stories contain levels that children will miss.

They can be seen as expressions of the collective unconscious of the human race. They point out our shared experiences, deepest fears and desires and the internal warring that is part of being alive.

The world’s collections of Fairy tales tend to be introduced to each generation and are a way to preserve history, legend and customs of a variety of cultures.

Famous Collections of Fairy Tales

  • Grimm’s Fairy tales
  • Fairy Tales of Hans Christen Andersen
  • Gypsy Folk Tales
  • Folktales from India
  • Tales from the Arabian Nights
  • Russian Wonder tales
  • Folktales of China
  • Cinderella and Other Tales from Perrault
  • The Happy Prince and Other Tales

Modern parents often wonder about the value of reading fairy tales to children.

None less than Albert Einstein had a word to say about fairy tales.

He is quoted as saying, “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.”

There are many versions of famous fairy tales and a parent can choose the version that best suits their child. Remember these stories have stood the test of time. Each generation can benefit from being acquainted with them because they have many layers to understand.

The Value of Fairy Tales

  1. Fairy tales show us how to handle life’s problems. We can learn from reading the stories as adults. Fairy tales tell children that evil can be overcome.
  2. Fairy tales can contribute towards developing emotional intelligence in a child.
  3. Fairy tales are not limited to one culture. They make us aware of other cultures of human beings just like us.
  4. Fairy tales model storytelling. Knowing how to tell a story is a life skill.
  5. Fairy tales develop imagination.
  6. Fairy tales can be used to discuss and think about life. They can encourage thinking.
  7. Fairy tales show some of life’s lessons.

The type of fairy tale you read to your child depends on their age and development. Many tales are not suited for very young children.

There are plenty of versions of the traditional takes and you will be able to find a version of a story suited to your child’s interests. For example, nasty things happen to many characters but they can be modified!

Fairy tales are a valuable part of the literary tradition they inherit and it is important to introduce your child to them.

Street Talk

What a fascinating article! I was intrigued from start to finish.

  about 7 years ago

Thank you Lewis. I truly appreciate hearing from you. Best wishes. Marilyn

  about 7 years ago
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