How Fairy Tales Make Mighty Minds

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

– Albert Einstein

So many opinions have flowered out of this intersection, but let us first step back and simply observe the child who is experiencing a story.

I say “experiencing” because it is so much more than listening. When our child listens to a story – simply told, without the extra stimulation of sound effects or visual images on a screen – their eyes gloss over, their jaw slackens, they become still, silent and completely focused. Their focus, however, is not on the storyteller as you might believe at first. Rather, it is an inward focus, a focus on the images of the story itself. They are actually “seeing” the red fox, the gold coins and the old gray man in the woods. They can “hear” the fire crackle in the hearth, the mooing of the cow and the brave call of the gentle huntsman. They can even smell the red rose and taste the steaming porridge. They are fully immersed and attentive to the world inspired by the storyteller’s words. They are not unlike a plant as it soaks in water from its roots and sunshine from its leaves – they absorb the story into their being. The story – like water, sunshine and nutrients – actually becomes a part of who they are.

And the child grows.