Albert Einstein is believed to have once 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.”
Could it be possible that the beloved fairy tales of childhood can have more value over and above delightful entertainment? We at Kumon have considered why it is important for you to tell and read fairy tales to your child.
Help develop a range of academic skills
- As a young listener your child will observe your storytelling skills and learn to mimic these as their own reading ability develops. They will learn how to captivate an audience using tone, accents, acting, dramatic pauses etc., as well as the components of effective storytelling like chronology and attention to detail.
- In listening to you reading fairy tales and then learning to read from the books themselves, a child will develop strong memory skills; I’m sure as an adult you can still recall the details of your favourite fairy tales.
- From the actual fairy tale plots they will develop in critical thinking skills, as they will follow the actions of the characters carefully and see the consequences of these actions, boosting their understanding of the world.
- Through any sort of fictional reading a child will develop in creativity, but the fantasy, myth and magic of fairy tales offers even greater scope for them to think outside of the box. Fairy tales are full of fantastic adventures, enchanting lands and exotic creatures, all of which fuel their imagination beyond the ordinary and every day.
Teach important life lessons
Of course the primary function of fairy tales is to be entertaining, but they also contain valuable and moral lessons for a child to learn.
According to The Telegraph, Goddard Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, said: “Fairy tales help to teach children an understanding of right and wrong, not through direct teaching, but through implication.”1
Certainly the real world isn’t a fairy tale but a child can take the over-arching messages of these tales and apply them to their own lives, for example fairy tales teach great lessons in friendship and kindness as well in individuality and staying true to oneself.
Encourage emotional development
Usually you would tell or read your child a fairy tale before bed to settle them into a peaceful slumber; this is important as it creates intimacy, routine, and a bonding experience between you and your child.
The majority of fairy tale plots and the messages they convey can resonate directly with a child and can help them to deal with an anxiety they can’t yet fully explain. Fairy tales can teach them how to better handle and deal with their emotions.
Professor Yvonne Kelly of UCL said the following about reading to children: “It’s not just the flow of information of the written text that’s in the book, it’s the degree of intimacy associated with telling stories and reading stories with and to young children… we find very, very strong correlations between reading to children and their own reading scores and their own maths scores and all markers of cognitive performance as well as to their behaviours“2
However, in closing, putting the research and studies aside, fairy tales are simply a wonderful way to add a bit of extra sparkle to your child’s day and encourage their love of reading.
This article is courtesy of the Kumon UK website*