I’ve often thought that fairy tales are unfortunately named. Not many boys want to get near any story that has the name “fairy” or “princess” in it. That sounds like a stereotype – but go ahead, ask the next boy you see how many fairy stories he’s read lately. Or ever.
But I say that if a girl wants to read a story about romance and princesses in towers that just happens to include sword fights and danger … then why can’t a boy want to read a story about sword fights and danger that just happens to include a bit of romance and maybe a princess or two?
I grew up as a bit of a tomboy. I liked having mud sliding contests in the field behind our barn more than I enjoyed playing with dolls. You would have found me by the creek or up a tree more often than you’d have found me in the house (ok, that’s still true…). I liked the scary stories, the adventuresome stories, the stories with pirates and swordfights and battles. I didn’t seek out fairy tales for the romance, and I didn’t much admire the damsels in distress. Yet I read them, and I loved them.
My own son, who is seven, loves them too. He’s not embarrassed to read fairy tales because he, like a true innocent, looks straight at the heart of the story – not at the title or the genre or the implications thereof. And when he looks at the heart of fairy tales, he sees the adventure in them. He is drawn by the mystery and the danger and the ultimate triumph of the hero. He flies around the house, brandishing his wooden sword while his homemade cape billows behind him … he’s a little hero himself. And it’s all because of fantasies and fairy tales and the dreams they have planted in his brave, sweet heart.
Boy, girl, man, woman … do you read fairy tales? What draws you to them? Which are your favorites?