Here one feeling dominates the tale, the Pine Tree was no longer contented. So she wished, first for gold leaves, next for glass leaves, and then for leaves hke those of the oaks and maples. Fairy tales for little children must avoid certain elements opposed to the interests of the very young child. Temperaments vary and one must be guided by the characteristics of the individual child.
This stand- ard would determine what tales should not be given to the child of kindergarten age : — The tale of the witch. The witch is too strange and too fearful for the child who has not learned to dis- tinguish the true from the imaginative. This would move Hansel and Grethel into the second-grade work and Sleeping Beauty preferably into the work of the first grade.
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The child soon gains sufficient experience so that later the story impresses, not the strangeness. The tale of the dragon. This would eliminate Sieg- fried and the Dragon.
A dragon is too fearful a beast and produces terror in the heart of the child. Tales of heroic adventure with the sword are not suited to his strength. He has not yet entered the realm of bold adventure where Perseus and Theseus and Hercules display their powers.
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The fact that hero-tales abound in dehghtful literature is not adequate reason for crowding the Rhinegold Legends, Wagner Stories, and Tales of King Arthur, into the kindergarten. Their beauty and charm do not make it less criminal to pre- sent to little children such a variety of images as knighthood carries with it.
These tales are not suffi- ciently simple for the little child, and must produce a mental confusion and the crudest of returns. Giant tales.
Tradition and Transformation: Fairy Tales in the Victorian Novel
A Httle girl, when eating tongue, confidingly asked, " Whose tongue? To a child of such sensibilities the cutting off of heads is savage and gruesome and should not be given a chance to impress so prominently. Life cannot be without its strife and struggle, but the little child need not meet everything in life at once. This does not mean that absolutely no giant tale would be used at this time. The tale of Mr. Miacca, in which " little Tommy could n't always be good and one day went round the corner," is a giant tale which could be used with young children because it is full of delight- ful humor.
Because of the simplicity of Tommy's lan- guage and his sweet childishness it appeals to the child's desire to identify himself with the character. Tommy is so clever and inventive and his lively sur- prises so brimful of fun that the final effect is entirely pleasing. S yme tales of transformation.
The little child is not pleased but shocked by the transformation of men into animals. A little girl, on looking at an illustra- tion of Little Brother and Sister, remarked, " K my Sister would turn into a fawn I would cry. A simple tale of transformation, such as The Little Lamb and the Little Fishy in which Gretchen becomes a lamb and Peterkin a little fish, is inter- esting but not horrible, and could be used. So also could a tale such as Grimm's Fundevogel, in which the brother and sister escape the pursuit of the witch by becoming, one a rosebush and the other a rose; later, one a church and the other a steeple; and a third time, one a pond and the other a duck.
In both these tales we have the witch and transformation, but the effect contains no horror. The tale of strange animal relations and strange creatures. Tom Tit Tot, which Jacobs considers the most delightful of all fairy tales, is brimful of humor for the older child, but here the tailed man is not suited to the faith and understanding of six years. Rumpelstiltskiny its parallel, must also be excluded. The House in the Wood, and its Norse parallel. The Two Step-Sisters, are both very beautiful, but are more suited to the second grade. In the kindergarten it is much better to present the tale which empha- sizes goodness, rather than the two just mentioned, which present the good and the bad and show what happens to both.
Besides there is a certain elation re- sulting from the superior reward won by the good child which crowds out any pity for the erring child. Snow White and Rose Red contains the strange dwarf, but it is a tale so full of love and good- ness and home life that in spite of its length it could be used in the first grade. Unhappy tales. The very little child pities, and its tender heart must be protected from depressing sadness as unrelieved as we find it in The Little Match Girl.
The image of suffering impressed on a child, who cannot forget the sight of a cripple for days, is too in- tense to be healthful. The sorrow of the poor is one of the elements of life that even the very little child meets, and it is legitimate that his literature should include tales that call for compassion. But in a year or two, when he develops less impressionability and more poise, he is better prepared to meet such situa- tions, as he must meet them in life. The tale of capture. This would eliminate Proser- pine. No more beautiful myth exists than this one of the springtime, but its beauty and its symbolism do not make it suitable for the kindergarten.
It is more suited to the elementary child of the fourth grade. In fact, very few myths of any sort find a legitimate place in the kindergarten, perhaps only a few of the simpler pourquois tales. It is better to leave the literature as it is and offer it later when the child reaches the second grade. It most happily makes the little lame boy who was left in Hamelin when the Piper closed the door of the mountain, the means of the restoration of the other children to their parents. The very long tale. This would omit The Ugly Duckling. The Ugly Duckling is a most artistic tale and one that is very true to life.
Its characters are the animals of the barn-yard, the hens and ducks familiar to the little child's experience. But the theme and emotional interest working out at length through varied scenes, make it much better adapted to the capacities of a third-grade child.
The White Cat, a feminine counterpart of Puss-in- Boots — which gives a most charming picture of how a White Cat, a trans- formed princess, helped a youth, and re-transformed became his bride — because of its length, is better used in the first grade at the same time with Puss-in- Boots. This is a fine tale telling how the youngest of three sons succeeded in winning the king's favor and finally the princess and half the kingdom.
But after winning in these tests, he is required to conquer a great Ogre who dwells in the forest, and later to prove himseK cleverer in intellect than the princess by telling the greater falsehood. It is evident that not only the subject- matter but the working out of the long plot are much beyond kindergarten children.
The complicated or the insincere tale.
This would eliminate a tale of complicated structure, such as Grimm's Golden Bird; and many of the modern fairy tales, which will be dealt with later on. The fairy tales mentioned above are all important tales which the child should receive at a later time when he is ready for them. They are mentioned be- cause they all have been suggested for kindergarten use. The whole field of children's literature is largely unclassified and ungraded as yet, and such arrange- ments as we possess show slight respect for standards. There is abundant material for the youngest, and much will be gained by omitting to give the very young what they will enjoy a little later, much better and with freshness.
In regard to this grading of the classics. Had I twenty girls they should be brought up exactly in this fashion.
But with all due respect to Lamb it must be said that Lamb is not living in this scientific day of discovery of the child's personality and of accurate attention to the child's needs. Because the Odyssey is a great book and will give much to any child does not prove at all that the same child would not be better off by reading it when his interests reach its life. This out- look on the problem would eliminate the necessity of having the classics rewritten from a new moral view- point, which is becoming a custom now-a-days, and which is to be frowned upon, for it deprives the lit- erature of much of its vigor and force.
The old tale will not always be perfect literature; often it will be imperfect, especially in form. Yet the tale should be selected with the standards of litera- ture guiding in the estimate of its worth and in the emphasis to be placed upon its content. Such relating of the tale to literary standards would make it quite impossible later in the primary grades when teaching the reading of Three Pigs, to put the main stress on a mere external like the expression of the voice.
A study of the story as literature would have centered the attention on the situation, the characters, and the plot. K the voice is receiving training in music and in the phonics of spelling, then when the reading of the tale is undertaken it will be a willing servant to the mind which is concentrating on the reality, and will express what the thought compels. The fairy tale first must be a classic in reality even if it lacks the crowning touch of perfect form given through the re-treatment of a literary artist.
In Rey- nard the Fox we have an exact example of the folk- tale that has been elevated into literature. But this was possible only because the tales originally pos- sessed the qualities of a true classic. Jack the Giant- Killer, — which has been said to be the epitome of the whole life of man — Beauty and the Beast, and a crowd of others. Any fairy tale which answers to the test of a real classic must, like these, show itself to contain for the child a permanent enrichment of the mind.
Fairy tales must have certain qualities which be- long to all literature as a fine art, whether it is the literature of knowledge or the literature of power.
Related Fatum (Fairy Tales nº 2) (Spanish Edition)
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