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Yesterday I was perusing the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress and came across this blog post.  It was an interesting read and got me thinking a bit.  You see, I had heard another story regarding fairy tales recently.  It seems that someone I have worked with at a local community theater got a job with a local public school district as librarian for one of their elementary schools.  When she asked the kids about fairy tales they had no clue as to what she was talking about.

What gives?

I know there have been outcries over the decades against the Brothers Grimm.  Various groups have decried them for everything from violence to paganism.  But, come on.  These are just stories that instill the basic values that I think the bulk of us can agree on.  These are not tales woven in myriad shades of gray that confuse issues and would be easily misinterpreted.  Any character exhibiting the bad behavior these tales are condemned for receives their comeuppance and everyone else gets on with their lives.

Simple, reasonable stuff.

My concern is that the lack of fairy tales will begin to erode some of the basic cultural understandings that those of us raised on “Hansel & Gretel” and Jack in all his forms take for granted.  Fairy tales are a communal thing.  They have become such a part of our culture and society that we don’t even have to think about them anymore.  What happens to the cultural IQ of a generation raised without exposure to these basic, universal stories?

My fear is that the decline of fairy tales is really just a symptom of a larger problem.  Are we seeing the beginning of the decline of literature as an important facet of society?  Have we stopped reading stories to our kids at bedtime?  Are our kids not discovering the joys of escaping to another world through the wonder of the printed word?

I have met people over the course of my life who feel that the printed word, as a whole, has begun to become irrelevant.  They claim that technology and the rise of television and cinema have made the printed word obsolete.  Letting alone the fact that great literature, past and present, gives the fodder for most of that television and cinema, consider this.

There are many books out there that will never be successfully transferred to any other media.  The beauty of the written word is its ability to express emotions and describe anything in ways that cannot be reproduced visually.  The written word challenges us, hones our ever-important imagination, and teaches us the single most important skill we can ever learn.

It teaches us to think.

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One Comment

  1. I for one, still read stories at bedtime with and for my youngest. He and his sister have the complete collection of fairy tales in one volume. The decline of fairy tales is in essence the decline of childhood. I would recommend “Hogfather” both the written version and the 2 part mini movie. Terry Pratchett does a wonderful job at explaining what could happen if our basic beliefs as a child are removed.


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