“Mommy, how will I know when my prince arrives? I mean, will a prince come to kiss me like in Snow White? How will he find me?” asked my daughter with a bright shade of fuschia lipstick smeared all over her little lips that apparently she had borrowed from her grandmother (I don’t do fuschia).
I looked my daughter straight in the eyes and said, “Only when you become an independent, self-sufficient, gracious queen will your prince arrive…the right prince for the true you. Before you can find the true you, you will have to slay dragons, combat hairy monsters single-handedly and battle your way alone through a dark and scary forest where the land may be unfamiliar at first. However, when grow your way through that forest – you will make it your own. And if he doesn’t find you, then you will find yourself.”
Sofia looked me up and down, curtsied and said, “Mommy, you don’t understand anything…Dad!”
My daughter lives in a world where Little Red Riding Hood conquers the Big Bad Wolf, and princesses always live happily ever after. She needs to continue believing that good conquers evil at this young age to prepare her to take on the monsters she one day will encounter in the real world.
Fairy tales represent a vital tool for my daughter, because they enable her to enter the world of adults. Characters are divided into good and bad, objects have magical powers and everything is possible. Through fairy tales, she learns that for every problem there is a solution and that every evil can be defeated by good and kind actions. In this way, simply reading a fairy tale at bedtime allows her to take control of her fears, anxiety, and nightmares.
How to read fairy tales to children
- There is no suitable time or place to read fairy tales. Some prefer reading before bedtime, while others prefer reading with their child after school.
- Get creative with the characters: modulate your voice to make the story more credible, allowing your child to be completely immersed in the story.
- Do not modernize the fairy tale by transforming the characters (the prince, the beast, the evil witch) into real characters. It must be clear that it is a story and not reality.
- Choose a position that allows your child to see the figures well, to turn the pages, to follow the story.
- Answer all questions your child asks, trying to be as honest as possible without rationalizing the story. Telling her that dragons do not exist will not help her overcome her fears. Explain to her that the dragons have weak points and can be defeated.
- Reread the fairy tale over and over if your child requires it.
In honor of National Tell a Fairy Tale Day, surprise your child with finger puppets and read her favorite fairy tale using those handmade puppets. She will love it!
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