Read Fairy Tales

Last Sunday was the Feast of Christ the King. You know, it is so important to think of Christ as a King that we have a feast day, the last Sunday of the Church Year, devoted to His royal title. I have been meditating on Christ’s Kingship this week: although the world is a very wicked place, overflowing with ugliness and evil, Christ is our King and He reigns forever. That thought brings me great peace.

Perhaps one of the reasons I take so much joy in meditating on our Savior’s royalty and Kingship is because I devoured fairy tales when I was a girl. I am not alone in this thought: this idea is developed by educator and speaker Andrew Pudewa in his wonderful talk Fairy Tales and the Moral Imagination (it’s a $3 download, so worth the price!). It is important to read fairy tales to understand what it means to have Christ as our King: when reading European fairy tales that came forth from a Christian world and a Christian tradition we learn that kings and princes are noble, virtuous protectors that rule their people with strength and courage. (Please note: I mean the real kinds of fairy tales–the Andrew Lang and Charles Perrault kinds, not the debased, mangled, re-imagined children’s movie kinds!) Any bad kings are replaced by good ones who have proved themselves worthy of the throne in some way and are the joy and hope of their people. (Mr. Pudewa humorously points out that wicked rulers are never replaced by a democracy!)

Fairy tales are allegories of spiritual realities thinly veiled as fantasy stories. They actually teach children: this is because fairy tales educate their imaginations to understand truth, goodness, and beauty. To quote the lecture above, “there is more truth in fairy tales than in some history books.” As a life-long lover of fairy tales, this idea really appeals to me, and makes total sense. Yes! The stories are true–in the big “T” sense of the word Truth. You don’t have to dig deep to recognize the ways that fairy tales refer to spiritual truths and supernatural ideas. When someone makes a wish in a fairy tale, it is analogous to a prayer; when someone remains faithful to a promise in spite of temptation or bribery, he wins the princess and the kingdom (rewarded virtue); when the hero and heroine marry they live happily ever after (Heaven). That is why the fairy tale is the story of all of us: it is the story of the Christian soul who has died in faithfulness to God and will live happily ever after.

Recently I realized that the universal and beloved story that we know as Cinderella is truly the story of Our Lady. She was only a lowly Virgin–poor, living in a terrible part of Israel (Nazareth), and betrothed to a poor workman–yet she lived a life of obedience and virtue, and because of this, she became Queen of Heaven and Earth. Elevated to Queenship, as was Cinderella, because of her virtue, in this way the story of Cinderella is true–and that is probably why it is a universal story that never loses its appeal.

Read quality fairy tales with your children. Let them enjoy the magic, the fantasy, and the revelry; you can read with an eye toward the spiritual Truths within. Your children’s imaginations and hearts will be forever guided by the truth, goodness, and beauty with which you fill your home, and fairy tales are a cherished and easy step on the path leading to Heaven.

One thought on “Read Fairy Tales

  1. I share your love of fairy tales. One of my all time favorites is “The Goosegirl”. I also have always loved Cupid and Psyche in the Greek myths. If I analyze my faves, I wonder if they will have commong themes (virtues)? I have never thought about it before…

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