A Fairy-Tale Hope

Authored by Dr. Petroc Willey in Issue #33.1 of The Sower

A source of great hope to the very young can be fairy tales. For this reason they should really be part of the essential reading for pre-school children and beginning readers. For any who need convincing of their value in offering solid moral formation and encouraging the necessary values and help essential for enabling children to find ‘reasons for living and hoping’ I would recommend an excellent book by Bruno Bettleheim: The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales.[i] What I write here owes much to the wisdom contained in that book.

Fairytales offer hope first because they are realistic about evil

Because of this they enable children to face the things that can destroy hope. Despite popular identification of the term ‘Fairy tale’ with make believe and the avoidance of reality, the very opposite is true - fairy tales are full of ogres, giants, witches, wicked stepmothers, indifferent fathers, spiteful brothers and jealous sisters. They are filled with death, grief, danger and struggle. The pages teem with characters who are prone to all the basic human vices and weaknesses - fear, cruelty, hard-heartedness, greed, stupidity, disobedience, anger, thoughtlessness, cruelty, cunning and deception - all of these are found in the basic repertoire of stories. Fairy tales, then, do not shield a child from all that he knows about the world and about himself - including the basic facts of ugliness, evil, sin and death.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Sower and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of Maryvale Institute. Contact sower@maryvale.ac.uk

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Pursuing Holiness in the Single Life
By Meg Hunter-Kilmer
Free Maybe it’s too much of a stretch to say that an unmarried tailor who lived with his mother is the reason communism fell in the west. Then again, maybe it’s not. Venerable Jan Tyranowski was, in many respects, an ordinary working class bachelor. But when he was 35, a homily changed his life. “It is not difficult to become a saint,” the priest said... Read more
Catechetical Metanoia: On Trying Something New
By Jason Gawaldo
During Advent of 2015, I was praying through the Prophet Isaiah when the Lord hit me over the head with these words, “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not. See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:18-19). Eight years into ministry at that point, I was keenly aware of... Read more
Children's Catechesis: Honoring the Dignity of Each Child
By Lani Bogart
In my role as a director of religious education, I have listened to catechists make sweeping statements about their students, “These kids today don’t care about anything.” “Most of them don’t even want to be here.” Admittedly, such words are spoken in moments of frustration. I have also heard teachers make sentimental statements about their... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now