Benefits of Fairy Tales for Preschoolers
Fairy tales don’t offer mere fun and excitement; they trigger your child’s imagination and foster her creativity. Read on to know more about the benefits of fairy tales for kids.
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj • 9 min read
Magnificent castles, charming princes, dainty princesses, little elves, wicked witches – that’s the fairy world for you! A world of fantasy that casts a spell on you! We all grew up on fairy tales and the memory lingers on even into adulthood. How can we ever forget the famous fairy tales of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty?
So, what’s it about fairy tales that we find ourselves entranced by the magical world they portray? And, is it just magnificence, charm and magic that fairy tales have to offer our children? Certainly not. They have a lot of benefits for them. Surprised? Don’t be. Even Albert Einstein believed in the benefits of fairy tales for kids. He said, “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.” Satisfied? When it comes from the great scientist himself, you should be.
So, let’s take a little peep into the wonderful world of fairy tales.
Fairy tales for kids
Here's our list of some famous fairy tales for kids:
Who wouldn’t love to hear the famous fairy tale of Cinderella who was mistreated by her wicked stepmother and two stepsisters? One night the entire family leaves for the king’s ball leaving Cinderella behind to finish the household chores. In comes her fairy godmother who uses her magic to transform Cinderella’s rags into a gorgeous gown, makes her look like a princess and sends her to the ball on a golden chariot. The story is about how the prince falls for this charming beauty and goes in quest of her when she leaves her glass slipper behind. The prince eventually finds her and marries her, and she becomes a princess. Isn’t that a true fairy tale ending?
“Mirror, mirror on the wall! Who’s the fairest of them all?” asks the queen, and bang comes the reply “Snow White, O Queen, is the fairest of them all.” As the story goes, the jealous queen orders her beautiful step-daughter Snow White to be killed but she escapes into the forest. She finds shelter in the house of the seven little dwarves who become her friends. This is another great English fairy tale for kids that shows how good triumphs over evil with the evil queen being chased away by the dwarves, and Snow White being united with her Prince Charming to live happily ever after.
Perhaps you will remember the tale of the beautiful young girl with golden hair so long that it stretches down the length of the very tower in which she is imprisoned by an evil witch. The girl is none other than Rapunzel who was taken away from her parents by the witch at a very young age. Like every fairy tale ending, Rapunzel does succeed in escaping from the clutches of the wicked witch and unites with her Prince.
Goldilocks and the three bears
When Goldilocks, the little naughty girl with golden hair, walks into the three bears’ cottage, there seems to be no one around. She eats their porridge, sits on their chairs, and even sleeps on their bed. Will she get caught when the bears arrive home? This classic fairy tale for kids is a perfect bedtime read for your little one.
Hansel and Gretel
This is a fascinating fairy tale of a brother and sister duo abandoned to die in the woods by their stepmother, as the family is running low on food. The duo’s attempt at survival leads them to a house in the woods built entirely of sweet syrupy candies with a garden full of lollipops. Watch how your child sits up wonder eyed as you narrate how Hansel and Gretel escape the clutches of the ugly witch using their wit and wisdom.
The Elves and the Shoemaker
A poor shoemaker and his wife are struggling to make ends meet, but something magical happens that changes their fortune. Every morning, the shoemaker finds that the leather he has left behind has been transformed into beautiful shoes. He and his wife discover the two little elves who are secretly helping them out and decide to gift them new clothes and shoes to wear. This makes the elves very happy. Make sure you tell your kids about this famous folklore about kindness and generosity.
Is your child making promises that she is unable to keep? Well, this story will teach her to think carefully before making any promise. Rumpelstiltskin is a fairy tale about a miller’s daughter who strikes a deal with a little magical man. It ultimately lands her in trouble. To escape from the situation, she has only one choice — guess the little man’s name within three days failing which he would take away her baby.
Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood is on the way to her grandmother’s house when she runs into a wolf. Little does the girl know that the scheming wolf is planning to devour both her grandmother and her. If only Little Red Riding Hood had listened to her mother’s advice and not run off the path! Narrate this tale to your child and tell her what Little Red Riding Hood did wrong. Your child will understand why it’s important to listen to elders and be wary of strangers.
The Sleeping Beauty in the woods
This is by far the most famous princess fairy tale of all and a favourite among children. A beautiful princess is cursed by an evil fairy and is put to sleep for a hundred years. The spell is finally broken by a handsome prince who awakens her from the deep slumber.
Jack and the beanstalk
The story of Jack and his magical beanstalk is sure to take your child on a fantasy trip. What happens to Jack when he climbs up the beanstalk and finds a magic castle in the sky? How does he manage to browbeat the giant and take away his riches? Tell all this to your child and see how it livens up his imagination.
How fairy tales benefit preschoolers:
For children, there is a lot to learn from fairy tales. The stories portray characters that vary between good and evil and impart values which your little one can imbibe. Here are some benefits of fairy tales for kids:
1. Foster imagination: The make-believe world of fairy tales nurtures the imagination of your little one. As the stories are far-removed from our daily lives, children are transformed to an altogether new setting. Their imagination runs wild and they fantasise about the dream world. Such nurturing of their imagination is essential to develop their creative skills.
2. Help relate to the abstract: Children always learn simple concepts better than complex ones. So too is it with concrete concepts than abstract ones. This is where fairy tales help. As the world of fantasy is far-fetched and not based on anything concrete, getting carried through the narration helps your child understand abstract concepts. This understanding leads to higher-order thinking skills and aids learning.
3. Inculcate values: The wicked deeds of the step-mother versus the goodness of the fairy god-mother in the story of Cinderella, the cruelty of the narcissistic queen in Snow White versus the helping nature of the dwarves – all introduce your child to values. They help her understand the concept of good versus bad, and that good triumphs always.
4. Teach problem-solving skills: The many battles in fairy tales and the way the characters try to overcome the difficulties and obstacles in their lives teach a lesson or two to your child on problem-solving – an important life skill for your little one.
5. Offer an understanding of men and matters: As they read the tales, children get a better insight into the minds of various characters. They apply critical thinking skills to analyse why people think or behave in certain ways. This helps them in their interpersonal and social skills when they grow up.
6. Expand vocabulary: Incidental learning is the best method of learning. And, that’s what reading fairy tales does. It helps your child acquire new words as he reads and thus contributes to building his vocabulary kit.
7. Introduce grim realities of life: No parent would want to expose his child to the harsh realities of life or what you would call the ‘dark’ side of life – wickedness, unhealthy rivalry, treachery, suffering, ill treatment, conflict and so on. Parents are protective by nature and ensure that their children are sheltered from all things negative. So, when they grow up and see or experience for themselves, children are in for a shock. Fairy tales make this easy for children. They introduce the child to all dimensions of life. Thus, it prepares them to face such realities later with resilience.
8. Provide cultural literacy: As the settings of fairy tales is varied, it introduces children to various cultures. This education will help them as they grow up to understand various cultures and make necessary adjustments in their perceptions.
So, take your children on a magical journey to the world of kings, queens, knights, dragons, fairies and other fairy tale characters… Let the tales make them dream. After all, dreams are what our lives are built on.
About the author:
Written by Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj, PhD (Eng & Edu) on 18 August 2018; updated on 17 November 2020
The author is an educationist, language specialist and writer. In a career spanning over two decades, she has taught from preschool to B-School and trained teachers, master trainers and software professionals. She is also a former member of curriculum and syllabus development committees (Govt of Tamil Nadu). Her passion for the written word matches her enthusiasm for entertaining little kids by breaking out into nursery rhymes.
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