Fairytales as a Means to Educate Children

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Universität Hamburg, Institut für Amerikanistik Integrierte Sprachlehrveranstaltung 2a „Disney’s Animated Films and their Folk-literary Sources“ M. Reffi Fairytales as a means to educate children For centuries parents have been telling their children stories of princes and princesses, kings and queens, of fairies, witches, dwarfs and giants. Those stories are called fairytales. They are capable of teaching children human values and a healthy attitude towards life. Unlike the widespread opinion during the 1970s, that fairytales were too cruel for children and not good for them to listen to, today’s scientists claim that the tales are extremely important for the development of children. What makes the tales so unique and important is the message they carry: The characters never question life itself nor want to die or give up. They carry their burden and struggle for their right, or even wait patiently (as in e.g. Cinderella) for their time to come. The final solving of the problem might indeed be a different one than the aspired aim. Also a happy ending cannot be achieved without struggle. Everybody has to make sacrifices in life, but in the end will be rewarded if he just tries hard enough and does not let doubts enter his mind. Thus the message is that life is beautiful and worth living, and that it is important to have an affirmative attitude in life. Luck and satisfaction will come to those who deserve it and in the end evil never pays. The clear distinction between black and white, good and bad makes the story comforting and easy to survey. Also the happy end is granted. Children can be assured when they are told a fairytale that at the end of every story the good will win and the bad will be punished. They also seem to be able to sense if a story is good for them or not. Some stories they wish to hear over and over again, others they plainly
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