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  • The Millennial Agora Staff

The Forgotten Magic World of Fairy Tales

The greatest storyteller Hans Christian Andersen used to say that "fairy tales are written to put children to sleep and adults to wake up.’’

Hans Christian Andersen reading a book to a group of childern

The world of fairy tales is a parallel universe. When children close their eyes, they can travel with their magic carpet to unknown places, defeat every mythical monster, discover new kingdoms, and find hidden treasures. Fairy tales liberate the imagination and teach about society, class, relationships, emotions, and values, good and bad.

The value of fairy tales is indisputable. Children not only acquire knowledge, but also develop their verbal ability and enrich their vocabulary. In addition, trying to give their own solution to the story, children improve their critical thinking. Furthermore, children learn to express themselves freely and through the fictional process they improve their mental functions, such as imagination, memory, and creative thinking. The simplicity of stories on topics such as death, separation, anxiety, or an illness, helps the child to accept future difficult situations. Another undeniable benefit of fairy tales, especially recurring ones, is the ability to overcome difficult situations. In the words of Freud ‘a recurring tale brings to the surface forgotten parts of the child's psyche and helps him to manage and overcome them’.

Since 1967, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), has been celebrating International Children’s Book Day on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. IBBY is a non-profit international organization. It was founded in Switzerland in 1953 and already has 75 national sections around the world. IBBY’s aim is to promote reading and highlight the importance of books for young people.

The world of fairy tales would not be the same without the contribution of Andersen. Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark on 2 April 1805 and died on 4 August 1875. A lot of his work has been translated into more than 100 languages and has become a part of contemporary culture in many countries. Although his fairy tales are based on folk legends, their goal is not to fulfill a wish but to make clear which actions are right and which wrong, and about which things are good and which bad. I'm sure we all remember the ugly duckling’s story. How many times have we used the ugly duckling story to explain the acceptance of diversity in society?

Usually in fairy tales evil takes the form of a dragon or witch, contrary Andersen’s fairy tales, in which evil takes the form human weaknesses. Andersen focuses on emotions such as vanity, selfish indifference, or disrespect. Some of his stories reveal an optimistic belief in the supremacy of the good and the beautiful, whereas others are deeply pessimistic and have an unpleasant ending. A few of Andersen’s most adored fairy tales are, "The Ugly Duckling", "The little mermaid", "The emperor's new clothes", "The little girl with the matches", and "Thumbelina’’.

When I think of my childhood, I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to live in a time when fairy tales were still a part of our daily lives. I still remember the nights when, in order to be able to sleep, I was looking for company with a fairy tale. Growing up I realized how all the meanings of life are hidden in fairy tales. Specifically as a lover of Andersen children's fairy tales I believe that everyone, children and parents, should read his fairy tales. The faces and symbolisms his uses have a timeless messages. Right, moral, wrong, death, devaluation, marginalization, redemption and the struggle for survival are issues that concern us every day. Also I believe that his fairy tales help children mature mentally and intellectually.

Technology and the modern pace of everyday life have overshadowed the value of children's books. Fun and play are related to the words computer and internet. Many times the games are violent and show the wrong standards In addition, parents work long hours so that they cannot spend time reading a story or playing with their children and as a result they drift away.

My suggestion to all modern parents, it’s to teach their children how important Fairy tales are. Hug your children and choose a nice fairy tale from Andersen's large collection to accompany their dreams. You can also discuss what they have understood, what they liked and what they didn’t like and if they would change anything in the story. I'm sure you will understand the difference in both their personality and their way of thinking. Do not forget that this also improves your relationship.

To conclude, we must not forget that even Einstein, when asked by a mother to say what she could do to make her son smarter, answered ‘’Read him fairy tales’’.

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Reading this article I feel very lucky to have been born into a generation full of fairy tales.

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