The world of Fairy Tales is one filled with excitement, enchantment and imagination. Children all over the world are exposed to these wondrous tales from the time of their birth and continue telling them to their own children and grandchildren. Why? Because fairy tales represent everything magical that is not present in every day life. Children are particularly fond of fairy tales because they allow them to explore the depths of their creativity and imagination. Many fairy tales also teach every day values that children depend on for solidarity throughout their adult lives. Cinderella, for example, teaches that diligence pays off in the end and that goodness and kindness are of far more worth than being well dressed and wealthy. The story of the Seven Swans displays the tenacity of a sister's love Rapunzel for her brothers, sacrificing all for those she cared about. Children may not even realize it, but hefty topics are learned young by the exposure to fairy tales and other fantastical stories.
Another positive aspect of these tales is that they are easy to read and understand, and a well known tale is a great way to start beginning readers on the path to literacy. The excitement and adventure of reading Snow White instead of hearing it creates a whole new depth of understanding of her plight and the great friendship she had with the dwarves. As a child, my favorite things to read always fell outside the realm of reality. Bunnies were only interesting if they talked, flowers were only captivating if they danced, and people who explored the unknown lands beyond the life they knew were my heroes. My love for reading stemmed from these stories that stretched the imagination.
The affect of fairy tales is long lasting~ they have been the countless subjects of art, literature and numerous other areas of the Humanities. Some of the best known illustrators are those who illustrate fairy tales~ Trina Schart Hyman, K.Y. Craft, and Mercer Mayer for example. And the bookshelves containing retellings of fairy tales in every local library are filled to overflowing. Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted, a piece of young adult fiction retelling Cinderella's story, has Newberry honors. Robin McKinley another Newberry award winning author, launched her career with a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, called Beauty. Caldecott Medals have also been awarded to Paul Zelinsky's Rapunzel and Trina Schart Hyman's Saint George the Dragon.
I found that researching this topic to be very easy. I used Google, Excite, and Lycos as my search engines of choice. I found the most effective search statement was "Fairy Tales+children+scholarly" and it took me to very good lists of informative sites. I wanted to get away from the "little kid" web pages and more into the scholarly, academic pages. I used the word scholarly to help weed out the problem web pages. I thought I'd have a lot more trouble, but one page would link to another, which would link to another, until I had a multitude of wonderful, informative, interesting pages.
I used Academic Search Elite to find some very good scholarly journal articles. I used Inter-Library Loan for those articles that were not full text resources. I used the online search catalog of the Stewart Library to find the books I wanted, after I had researched on the net and found a few that pertained to my topic.
I didn't really have many difficulties, other than wading through the kids fairy tale pages. For the most part the Internet was my best tool, it helped me find great web pages, links to scholarly articles and book references that would interest me.
The site that I've put together will hopefully enhance any viewer's understanding of fairy tales, their interpretation, the art and literture created for them and how children can use them to start their imaginative journey as they grow up. It includes my bibliography and webliography, as well as great links to fun fairy tale sites. Also included on my fairy tale links page are links to my favorite fairy tale artist's and author's web sites. And to better understand why I've chosen this topic I've put up an About Me section, which links tells about my fascination with fairy tales and about my current projects, such as my own illustrations and my retelling of the story "The Goose Girl."