Fairytales are old stories told and retold again, but do they deserve a place in a modern language arts curriculum?
Besides the fact that the Common Core standards require exposure to fairytales, there are other reasons why fairytales should be included in reading instruction.
Fairytales spark the imagination – Can you imagine how dry and sterile life would be if we didn’t have fantasy stories to enjoy? Fairytales help kids exercise their imagination which facilitates invention and discovery.
Cultural literacy – Although fairytales are ancient stories, they are referred to frequently in many facets of modern life from “Cindrella”stories in sports to sayings about kissing lots of frogs before finding a prince. These references would make no sense to someone without exposure to fairytales.
Story Structure – Fairytales have a reliable story structure with clear good and evil characters, a well defined setting, a problem, and a solution. When kids are read fairytales they gain a basis for making predictions and comprehending other stories.
Love of Reading – As the Common Core recommends, kids do need plenty of exposure to nonfiction text because this is what they will spend a lot of time reading as adults. However, to really build a love of reading they should also have a chance to read or listen to enthralling fairytales.
Smaller/Weaker Characters Win – In fairytales, good always triumphs over evil. Frequently, the good character is small or weaker than the evil force in the story. Kids are always smaller and weaker than the adults around them so these fairytale characters become their heroes.
Here is an anchor chart to use while teaching about fairytales:
This is one page from my fairytale genre study packet with activities that can be used with any fairytale. These activities include both higher level thinking and Common Core skills.