February 26th is Tell a Fairy Tale Day! February 26 2015
Dark forests, Wizards and Fairy godmothers, King and Queens, Stepchildren and Dumblings, Animals who speak, and the magic of love are all elements we experience in Fairy Tales. Not only are these elements familiar to us all but they seem to inform our unconscious expectations, fears and hopes. The pictures in Fairy Tales resonate as the archetypes within us all.
Telling children Fairy Tales from all over the world is one of the best gifts to give. All the elements of fairy tales speak to the being of a little one. They instruct the child’s innate sense of morality and justice, and they illuminate the dark parts and exalted parts we all have within us. Imaginative skill is built through the rich pictures in Fairy Tales. Hearing the truths depicted there in the tales soothes a child.
Fairy Tales come from an ancient past and have been handed down to us orally from grandparent to grandchild, from parent to child, and from teacher to child for centuries. One of the characteristics defining a fairy tale is this: that the author of the tale cannot be traced because it has survived for so long. Fairy tales also have elements discernible in a variety of cultures. This is because they hold universal truth and human characteristics beyond national or cultural distinctions.
Perhaps the most important element that distinguishes a fairy tale from another kind of tale, such as a folk tale or a legend or a man-made story (Hans Christian Anderson was a wonderful weaver of man-made tales, for example) is the element of transformation. Proper fairy tales all hold magic in them, for example: because Dumbling helps the animal kingdom, they help him to become King; because Rose Red loves the bear she breaks the enchantment and he becomes, once again, the prince he truly is; because the despised step daughter is kind and helpful when her step-mother tries to get rid of her, diamonds and roses come from her mouth when she speaks; the kiss of the prince awakens the princess from the sleep of a hundred years, defying death itself.
This element of transformation gives a young heart hope, confidence, determination, a loving connection to the natural world, and intuitive intelligence. Of course the fairy tales are also nourishment for adults as well!
In Waldorf schools, the heart of the Kindergarten curriculum and the literature of the first grade in elementary school is that of Fairy Tales. Out of these stories come the pictures of the letters and the sounds of the letters, many reasons for counting and adding and subtracting, substance for playacting the plots, and dressing up as the characters. Endless are the riches for children in these ancient tales!
Even Disney recognizes that the best stories are Fairy stories. Disney’s Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast, though altered from their original plot line in the movies, remain classics in the genre of movies for children.
One last testament about the distinction of the Fairy Tale came from the heart of a first grader. After a Fairy Tale was told a little boy asked, skeptically, “Is that story really true?” A little girl answered, “That story is truer than true.” This is another litmus test of an authentic Fairy Tale: it’s truer than true.
In celebration of “Tell a Fairy Tale Day” take 15% off the following titles:
Fairy Tales by Margaret Peckham
Nature Stories by Margaret Peckham
Fairy Tales and Art by Monica Gold
Check out the Online Waldorf Library for free resources regarding the value of Fairy Tales and other amazing resources!! A few of our favorites are:
Interpretation of Fairy Tales by Rudolf Steiner
The Value of Grimm's Fairy Tales by William Harrer
Choosing Fairy Tales for Different Ages by Joan Almon