Bedtime Stories for Elders: What Fairy Tales Can Teach Us About the New Aging

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Hannah adds a person in the middle with a red X above him, alongside the reindeer. Vasquez explains that Hannah had experienced bullying by the boys in the class and did not like seeing that Rudolph was called names and bullied by other reindeer when she read Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. My own research has yielded similar insights.

Sally Gardner's top 10 fairy tales

I have found that children internalize the cultural and gender roles of characters in the stories. In one such study that I conducted over a six-week period, third grade children read and discussed the role of male and female characters through a number of different stories. Children then reenacted gender roles eg, girls as passive; evil stepsisters.


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The roles for girls, for example, were rewritten to show they worked and played outside the home. Subsequently, we asked the girls to draw what they thought boys were interested in and boys to draw what they thought girls were interested in. We were surprised that nearly all children drew symbols, stories and settings that represented traditional perceptions of gendered roles.

That is, boys drew girls as princesses in castles with a male about to save them from dragons. These images were adorned with rainbows, flowers and hearts. Girls drew boys in outdoor spaces, and as adventurers and athletes. For example, look at the image here, drawn by an eight-year-old boy. It depicts two things: First, the boy recreates a traditional storyline from his reading of fairy tales princess needs saving by a prince. Even though he engaged in discussions on how gender should not determine particular roles in society eg, women as caregivers; men as breadwinners , his image suggests that reading traditional stories, such as fairy tales, contributes to his understanding of gender roles.

Our findings are further corroborated by the work of scholar Karen Wohlwend , who found a strong influence of Disney stories on young children. However, it is not only the written word that has such influence on children. Before they begin to read written words, young children depend on pictures to read and understand stories. Another scholar, Hilary Janks , has shown that children interpret and internalize perspectives through images — which is another type of storytelling.

And not just that; stories can also influence how children choose to act in the world. For example, Hilary Janks works with children and teachers on how images in stories on refugees influence how refugees are perceived. In their work in a diverse K-5 school with children, they found stories moved even such such young children to consider how they could bring change in their own local community and school.

These children were influenced by stories of child activists such as Iqbal , a real-life story of Iqbal Masih, a child activist who campaigned for laws against child labor. He was murdered at age 12 for his activism. Children read these stories along with learning about human rights violations and lack of food for many around the world.

In this school, children were motivated to create a community garden to support a local food bank. In Atlanta, where I teach and live, in one school cluster alone, children represent over 65 countries and speak over 75 languages.

Sally Gardner's top 10 fairy tales | Children's books | The Guardian

Indeed, the diversity of the world is woven into our everyday lives through various forms of media. At a time when children are being exposed to negative narratives about an entire religious group from US presidential candidates and others, the need for children to read, see, and hear global stories that counter and challenge such narratives is, I would argue, even greater. A contemporary Robinsonade — York, York. Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin!

Why stories matter

You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread man! Differentiate these ideas for your grade level, and check our Useful Links for sample lesson plans. Either assign a story or ask each student to select a specific story for a written assessment on the following:. Identify the characteristics of Fairy Tales, and how they differ from modern Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Fairy Tales are told in all cultures around the world, and passed from one generation to the next.

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Highlight their differences, and discuss the cultural distinctions in each story. How have fairy tales changed over time? Comment on the roles of special effects and graphic violence in the modern-day movie, compared to the graphic elements of hate and death in the story.

The Story of Jack and The Beanstalk - Fairy Tales for Kids

Bonus : discuss the portrayal of the jealous Queen in Disney's Snow White movie. Re-write the story so it can be told to a 3 - 7 year old. What elements did you change? Consider a modern creator of gothic fairy tales Tim Burton or Stephen King. Provide examples of either author's works, and how they fit in the fairy tale genre. Some fairy tales are not straight-forward "morality tales. Discuss how its theme of determinism versus free will make this a "grown-up" allegory. Study Guide ]. Pick a familiar fairy tale from the Children's Library , and write a gothic horror version of the story.

Read The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde , discuss its surface story, and its deeper meaning as a parable, in the kingdom of God, where the giant finds redemption by the Christ child. Choose two of Ambrose Bierce 's Fantastic Fables.

Identify their "lessons" and ironic twist, featured in many of his tales. How do these seemingly absurd tales compare with his better-known Civil War Stories? Writing Prompt : Consider the epic Star Wars saga. Provide specific examples and reference which episode to demonstrate your understanding of the differences in genres. Fairy Tale Unit Lesson Plans grades Fairy Tales form Life Lesson Plan grades Writers Compare Modern Fantasy vs.

Fairy Tales. The Selfish Giant Study Guide. Visit our Teacher Resources , supporting literacy instruction across all grade levels.

Favorite Fairy Tales

Henry H. Little Red Riding Hood. Ages Ages 13 - Adult. Teaching Ideas. Favorite Quotes. Jack and the Beanstalk. Hans Christian Andersen. A poor shoemaker and his wife are down to their last piece of leather when their fortunes change thanks to help from talented elves. Three Billy-Goats Gruff. The Sagacious Monkey and the Boar. This lovely mermaid is willing to give up her fishtail and immortality in exchange for a human soul. Enjoy the magic of Elmer Elevator's adventures rescuing a baby dragon on Wild Island.