Learning by Listening – The Importance of Short Fairy Tales For Children


Whenever I visit my six-year old granddaughter, she always wants to hear a new story. While this on demand story telling has honed my ability at creating short fairy tales, it hasn’t necessarily made it any easier for me to remember all the stories Reading apps for special needs. Occasionally, when I’ve spent the day doing chores, following our early morning story/cuddle time, I will forget (when I’m finally free) to write down my morning’s story.

What I find both amazing and helpful is that I am now able to ask her to remind me of a story I’ve told her. I will ask her, “Darling, I remember telling you a story about a dragon, and a story about a haunted mirror, but I forget what the third story I told you was about. Can you remind me?” And, having listened to so many short fairytales, she now has developed a wonderful auditory memory, and so, even a couple of weeks later, she is capable of reminding and retelling me the story I once told her.

The age-old tradition of story telling is one of the earliest forms of teaching and inspiring children. It is important in developing their memories. Furthermore, because they are hearing an un-illustrated story, the listeners are forced to create the pictures in their own minds. This increases their ability visualize which helps their creative imaginations grow. When I ask a group of children what “Cinderella or Snow White looks like, most will describe the images Disney’s artists created. However, after telling them my short fairy tale “The Bird Girl,” if I ask them to draw the pictures they see in their mind of “Great Grandmother,” tree, or Zaporah (the bird girl) and her friends, when they share their finished pictures it is clear each child has a unique vision.

Through the sharing of stories, short fairy tales, and myths, oral traditions have been the primary way children have learned about their culture. Throughout most of human history children have learned about their society’s values, ethics and expectations, through hearing stories. Listening to the storyteller’s tales, children learned about their roles in society, they learned about the choices open to them. They learned empathy and morality. From time immemorial, the spoken word has been a major influence on human development. If we want to keep the oral traditions and an awareness of the beauty and music of the spoken word alive, we need to promote children’s auditory literacy from an early age.

Auditory literacy is also a necessary component to the learning of languages. As reading and observing works of art and nature attunes a child’s eyes to the visual world, listening to stories and repeating the ones they’ve heard attunes their ear’s sensitivity, helping them develop their auditory intelligence, which is the basis for learning languages. There is evidence that early childhood is the best time to learn languages. Children today are growing up to inhabit a world where communication among people of different nationalities and cultures will be much more prevalent than it was in the world we, and our ancestors grew up in. Watching my granddaughter and her schoolmates play, I realize our children and those who will follow them are growing up to become part of a world where it is beneficial to be at least bilingual, and even better to be multilingual.



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