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The Importance of Fairy Tales to Preschool Development

 

Child reading.

From emotional and moral intelligence to vocab and cultural sensitivity, these stories teach valuable lessons to children.

To Amusement and Beyond

Fairy tales’ rich, imaginative stories for children — involving magical events and places, wondrous tasks or imaginary creatures — offer far more than entertainment and happily ever after. Studies have shown that fairy tales also provide important benefits to the development of young minds.

Fairy Tales Do More

  • Spark imagination and offer moral lessons. Children learn from the mistakes of characters in these stories, which helps them with their critical thinking skills. Fairy tales also model behavior for children and provide a context in which children can evaluate their own emotions and decision making.
  • Aid in emotional resilience by helping children connect stories to real life. Fairy tales show that people face adversity, but, if they believe in themselves, they can overcome obstacles. Stories can help children confront real-life fears and anxieties in a fantastical setting.
  • Expose children to different cultures, as they are often set in different parts of the world. Choosing fairy tales from around the world helps children appreciate the customs and value systems of others.
  • Improve vocabulary, demonstrate the structure of stories, and, most importantly, create a love of reading.

For suggestions of age-appropriate fairy tales for preschoolers, start with the list below and find more at research.fairfaxcounty.gov/early-literacy.

Fairy and Folk Tales for Preschoolers

  • The Emperor’s New Clothes by Marcus Sedgwick
  • Two rascals sell a vain emperor an invisible suit of clothes. Illustrated with animal characters.
  • Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
  • Little Bear, all grown up, finds himself lost in a noisy, busy city where he happens to bump into someone with golden hair who remembers exactly how he likes his porridge.
  • Hansel and Gretel by Bethan Woollvin
  • In a fairy tale twist, Hansel and Gretel ransack Willow the good witch's gingerbread cottage and play havoc with her spells, driving the poor witch to her wit's end.
  • Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya
  • A rhyming twist on the classic fairy tale in which a little girl saves her grandmother from a wolf. Includes a glossary of Spanish words.
  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Rachel Isadora
  • A retelling, set in Africa, of the story of twelve princesses who dance secretly all night long and how their secret is eventually discovered.
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