Are fairy tales bad for children?

“Are stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Rapunzel harmful to children? […]  A poll of 3,000 British parents showed that a quarter of mothers today reject some classic fairy tales.”

Read Marjorie Kehe’s blogpost in The Christian Science Monitor by clicking on the above link.

I’d love to hear what you think.

7 thoughts on “Are fairy tales bad for children?

  1. Shirl

    I’m probably one of the few parents that believe fairy tales are a good thing for children. It’s not so much about the story which, I agree, might be a little outdated, so much as the moral issue it’s trying to convey.

  2. Michelle Post author

    Shirl, I can’t imagine growing up with What a Noisy Pinky Ponk! instead of Beauty and the Beast

  3. Dave Bonta

    I think the darkness and danger in the old stories is a very necessary soil for the imagination. A friend of mine was just tweeting about her 11-year-old son being assigned to write about the suffering at Gaza in school; he’s twelve. That may well be a little young for such adult themes, but it’s a grim world and getting grimmer. I love Winnie-the-Pooh and the Wind in the Willows, too, but I think stories like Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood may in some ways be better preparation for the horror and violence which they will eventually, as responsible global citizens, have to confront.

    As a side-note, I cannot stand “Bible Stories for Children.” But there are few good options otherwise for making the Good Book palatable to tender ears… I mean, the whole Flood story, for example, is morally reprehensible. And though not religious, I am loathe to let go of the Bible as the foundation of Western culture. Perhaps if it were made off-limits to children, as if it were violent pr0n (which some of it almost is), kids would be more eager to read it.

  4. Michelle Post author

    “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”
    – Albert Einstein

    “Fairy tales were not my escape from reality as a child; rather, they were my reality – for mine was a world in which good and evil were not abstract concepts, and like fairy-tale heroines, no magic would save me unless I had the wit and heart and courage to use it widely.”
    – Terri Windling

    “For those who immerse themselves in what the fairy tale has to communicate, it becomes a deep, quiet pool which at first seems to reflect only our own image; but behind it we soon discover the inner turmoils of our soul – its depth, and ways to gain peace within ourselves and with the world, which is the reward of our struggles.”
    – Bruno Bettelheim

    “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
    – G K Chesterton

  5. dale

    Yes, generally I agree with Chesterton.

    But as a parent, the question is really, always: is this fairy tale bad for this child right now? Sometimes the answer is yes, and you reach for another story.

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