Resurrecting Fairy Stories with New Magic
Wed, July 3, 2019 by
Many of us will remember with great fondness our parents reading magical tales of faraway lands to us as children. Houses could be made of gingerbread, rabbit holes would lead to great adventures and trolls lived under bridges. There was something comforting, rather like a warm hug, hearing the familiar, being able to join in huffing and puffing and revisiting old friends time and time again.
Therefore it seems terribly sad that a recent survey produced by Rory’s story cubes has recently discovered that two thirds of parents have never read their primary school aged children a classic fairy tale.
Schools are increasingly putting academic pressure on children as young as 5, and it seems the importance of creativity on the curriculum as well as at home is in danger of being lost in the mists of time.
Alongside this, statistics show that young people have never spent so little time outside, yet are spending more time than ever in front of a screen. In fact 3 in 10 parents revealed that their children think Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast are films, not books originally written by Charles Perrault and are over 300 years old. The re-telling of fairy stories gives scope for a child’s imagination to create a treasure trove of their own magical worlds.
Fairy tales are also filled with valuable life lessons for children to learn from.
Don’t to be afraid to ask for help (Cinderella). Do not judge people on first impressions (The Princess and the Pea). The importance of friends (Snow White and the 7 Dwarves). Laziness and taking the easy option does not always pay off (3 Little Pigs).
In Aboriginal and Native American cultures, journey sticks were created by tribes people. They collected materials from their journeys and tied them to their sticks to help them remember their adventures and enthral their friends with their tales using the journey stick as a memory prompt once they returned home.
So how can we breath new life in to the oldest of storytelling traditions?
Combined with the threat of loosing the fairytale and children’s connection with the outdoors, perhaps a more novel approach is required to put fairy tales back on the map with children creating their own version of the journey stick?
After a fairytale is told to a child, take a walk outdoors as a family, a trip to the park, beach or woods will soon inspire young minds to get creative. With the story fresh in their minds, encourage children to create their own journey stick and look to Mother Nature to find items that symbolise images from the story. A tiny feather can be transformed in to the wing of a fairy god mother, a pile of sticky grass is made in to a crown for princess, a tiny red berry becomes a poisonous apple, or a jagged stone is the tooth of an evil ogre. The possibilities are endless and will spark imagination and creativity away from the screen and breath new life in to old favourites fairy tales. Once home the child can retell their own version of the fairytale with items from their journey stick being used as reminders.
As the nights start getting longer and nature starts springing up once more, surely it is time to for us all to wake up and reignite our children’s curiosity, imagination and creativity? Combining this with a hearty dose of the great outdoors will help bring the treasured fairytale back to life in new ways and inspire the young to pass them on to the next generation.
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Written by volunteer writer Jane Corbett