To the point of being over-hyped and over-used, fairy tales have dominated the childhoods of generations. However, are these stories that have passed down generations relevant for the times we live in? The world we inhabit has shrunk and communication has changed the game. Gender roles and power equations have changed. We live in new ever-changing times. The question then arises, are fairy tales relevant in today’s world?
Cinderella, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs are some of the old-time classics. Fairy tales occupy an important place in almost every human heart. They entertain parents as well as children by taking all of us back to the time when fun and play occupied our lives. Stories connect, heal and transform. Fairy tales are stories which not only create their own magic but also work at a metaphysical level.
However, there may be a few preferred changes over the existing older versions. Let’s have a sneak peek into the various aspects of fairy tales and their relevance in today’s world.
- Fairy tales boost your imagination and take you away from reality. But they also give you hope that there is something which works beyond what the eyes can see and the mind can perceive. Shilpa Shah, story teller and facilitator for life skill workshops, thoughtfully reiterates the fact that fairy tales are relevant in this age and time. She further adds that fairy tales take us to a world where the impossible things can be dealt with, and that there is always hope and light. This message of faith and hope instilled in young minds through these parables help create self-confidence and inner strength.
- Fairy tales play an instrumental part in building values and life skills in the minds of young ones. They illustrate important life lessons and reflect universal truths. The larger than life characters help the young ones to build connections to everyday life situations in an imaginative way. If trained appropriately, children can find innovative solutions to many problems that they come across in their growing years.
- However, curation is essential for fairy tales today. Sneha Pereira, a counselling psychologist cautions parents to not reflect a particular gender in a weaker light or lose touch with fiction’s basic nature. She concludes that fairy tales when designed in a non-judgmental manner, serve as a method of observational learning which over time leads to the values and morals being embedded as an integral part of one’s life style. These parables can be curated in such a manner that shows equality in genders as well as basic values such as mutual respect and tolerance.
- Shilpa Shah, storyteller and life skill facilitator too feels that fairy tales needs to curated to suit to the current age and time. Children should be encouraged to create magic in one’s own life rather than expecting someone or something else to do so. For example, in Rapunzel the princess does not have to necessarily wait for the prince to come and rescue her. In Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, the princess is wise enough by not trusting strangers and hence not buying the poisonous apples from the witch. Similarly, in the story of Cinderella, a closure to the characters of the step mother and step sisters would change the perspective of the story.
The magic of retelling
Fairy tales thus are narratives that create a base for children to learn moral values, understand their own emotions, physical diversity and behaviour of humans in different situations. When we retell the characters as powerful humans rather than victims, it creates a different feel in the child. There are many books as well as apps that share beautiful stories that are retold to inspire deep reflection. However, it is best to encourage our children to step up and recreate these stories along with parents. This will be like a Pandora’s Box which will open limitless possibilities and conclusions.
Here are some interesting books where fairy tales are retold and they are in sync with modern times.
Little Red Riding Hood may have been gobbled by the wolf and saved by the woodcutter…But Little Red can get her won way out of danger from the hungry lion!
A gentle retelling of Goldilocks and the three bears, where she makes things “just right” for her hosts! After all, in the original story, it really wasn’t nice of Goldilocks to trespass was it? An added bonus- some lovely Spanish words (don’t worry, their meanings are also given)