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Last weekend’s “Aha!” moment in reading

[Discussing the very real psychological and developmental benefits of parents making the choice to expose their children to fairy tales young and repeatedly:] 

“We know that the more deeply unhappy and despairing we are, the more we need to be able to engage in optimistic fantasies.  But these are not available to us at such periods.  Then, more than at any other time, we need others to uplift us with their hope for us and our future.  No fairy tale all by itself will do this for the child… first we need our parents to instill hope in us.  On this firm and real basis – the positive ways in which our parents view us and our future – we can then build castles in the air, half aware that these are just that, but gaining deep reassurance from it nonetheless.  While the fantasy is unreal, the good feelings it gives us about ourselves and our future are real, and these real good feelings are what we need to sustain us.”

– Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales 

9 thoughts on “Last weekend’s “Aha!” moment in reading

  1. Not a big fan of Bettelheim but I think he was right about this — and probably the point is applicable with some modifications with reference to a lot of the epic stories we tell kids (including Bible stories, Gk myths, etc., or even Disney)

    • The book appeared on some “if you could only read ten more books before you die, don’t miss these,” list, so I thought I’d better give it a look. I’ve been enjoying it so far. I know nothing of Bettelheim other than what I’ve yet seen in this one book, so.

      He certainly makes a good case for the value of a healthy imagination, I’ll give him that.

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