Can we still use fairytales?

National storytelling week was last week, but I still had more to say on stories so I thought I’d make this the second part of my thoughts on stories. This time, I’d like to look at fairytales and why we’ve stopped telling them.

You might think, if you look at Young Adult literature or the fantasy book market, that fairytales have never been more popular. There are new retellings and stories that incorporate fairytale elements each year.

But that’s not the same as telling fairytales. Fairy and folk tales come from a time before every community had access to literacy, and as such I think they’re still incredibly important when we look at literacy today.

Following the story of a fairy or folk tale handed down orally through generations and then remembering it to pass on to others practices some of the skills that we find are often underdeveloped in our students – listening and remembering.

Before we even get to the act of writing a story down, just the receiving of the story has benefits on literature.

But they have an impact on emotional literacy too, on learning how to identify with characters who have both positive and negative traits, of when to be wary of strangers and how it’s still important to try to help them. This is something I think we’ve lost. Everything is suddenly real, concrete examples when, actually, sometimes a little imagination can go a long way.

What do you think? Can fairy tales have a place in modern literacy?