The importance of traditional tales for beginning readers

Do you remember the first time you read the story of The Three Little Pigs? How about the first time someone told you the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? It seems like you must have known these traditional tales forever, but somewhere along the way they were read to you or you learned to read them yourself. The tradition of reading folk tales, fairy tales, and fables continues at home and in schools for good reason. Here are the top five reasons why you should be reading traditional tales with your child.

traditional tales - Emperor's New Clothes

The Emperor’s New Clothes, Retold by Michele Dufresne and Illustrated by Michael Chesworth

1. Traditional tales are universal. At some point or another, your child will come across a classic folk tale like The Emperor’s New Clothes or The Gingerbread Boy. The earlier you introduce them the more confident your child will be with the plot and concepts as he or she moves up the grades.

2. Traditional tales often reflect the values and beliefs of diverse cultures, which promotes understanding that the world is a bigger place than one’s own town, group of friends, school, or neighborhood.

The Little Red Hen - Traditional Tale

The Little Red Hen – Retold by Rose Lewis and illustrated by Ann Caranci

3. Traditional tales can teach an important lesson. How old were you when you first heard the tale of The Little Red Hen? As you grew older did your understanding of the deeper meaning of it grow as well? The sooner kids hear these morals and lessons, the better they can explore their deeper meanings as they grow into adult readers.

4. Reading traditional tales enhances your child’s own storytelling skills. Many tales start with “Once upon a time…” which opens up a world of stories to the listener.

5. Traditional tales are a part of the “oral tradition,” an important concept for your child to get to know. Oral tradition spans poems, riddles, songs, lullabies, and even jokes.

As with all of our tips, we always recommend reading, reading, and more reading with your child as early as you can in his or her life. Our other recommendation is to read lots of different kinds of books. The more familiar your child can get with the fact that there are all kinds of books out there, the more comfortable he or she will be when it comes time to read on his or her own.

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