The Power of Pretending

 

Making believe is healthy and a part of early childhood that transports the reader into other worlds that are fresh with wonder, surprise, and danger. Fantasy fills the gaps between knowledge, reality and experience, and becomes a vital coping mechanism.

It also stimulates and instructs the moral imagination of the young. Ever since early Victorian days’ fairy tales have taught integrity. At the same time, children who have imaginary companions display a higher level of creativity at a young age, likely because they live in a far more wondrous, whimsical world. Fantasy stories are much more than escapism. Every creaking floorboard caused by a pirate or a burglar, or more probably a crocodile under the bed develop emotions that prepares them for ‘real life’.

Children are inexperienced and long to explore their feelings. This is why they need to be scared. Fantasy is an excellent, safe way to do it. Children are filled with a spectrum of human emotions, wild, exciting and passionate; feelings that need to be unharnessed. Great fairy tales and children’s fantasy stories depict character and virtue while displaying wickedness and deception – depicting the values of goodness and truth.

The philosopher, Alasdair Maclntyre, once said:

“It is through hearing stories about wicked stepmothers, lost children, good but misguided kings, wolves that suckle twin boys, youngest sons who receive no inheritance but must make their own way in the world and eldest sons who waste their inheritance…that children learn or mis-learn what a child and what a parent is, what the cast of characters may be in the drama into which they have been born and what the ways of the world are. Deprive children of stories and you leave them unscripted, anxious stutterers in their actions as in their words.”