Saturday, 24 March 2012
Traditional Stories - by Nella Pickup
Traition isn’t what it used to be.
In our household, when we greet a new baby, the gifts always includes a copy of Aesop’s Fables. My husband believes that, in this secular age, children have to learn their moral code from Aesop and other traditional tales.
Over the last 15 years I have noticed that while grandparents might look for traditional stories such as Gingerbread Boy or Little Red Riding Hood, parents are deliberately choosing not to introduce their children to these “scary stories”. It appears that for the parents of the bubble-wrap generation, Goldilocks is all about stealing; Rapunzel focuses too much on kidnapping and Little Red Riding Hood is deemed unsuitable by parents who worry about the grandmother has been eaten by a wolf.
Is this a concern? I believe so. Children who have not been has introduced to traditional stories miss much of the richness of our language and will find literary allusions impossible to understand. An “ugly duckling“ is just that not beauty in disguise; and who cares why boys cry wolf or emperors have new clothes”?
How can anyone understand the pun in Emily’s Rapunzel hair? Will Leon Stumble’s ridiculous stories about Jack and the Branstalk, Snow White and the Seventy Dwarfs and the Gingerbread Mane be as funny if you haven’t read the original? And my current favourite title by Michael Rosen and Nick Sharratt Dear Fairy Godmother, an agony aunt style book where characters such as the little bear asks Fairy Godmother for advice about how to stop a naughty girl stealing his porridge, will make no sense.