Is Cinderella for a three year old?

 “It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.”  Kahlil Gibran

Indeed. Had it not been for stories, we would have perhaps been living our lives caught in mundane activities without an iota of imagination to relieve our minds. For little minds, storytelling is a form that takes them to a world beyond the obvious. As you weave a magical web of words before them, you will notice how the child is instantly engrossed in the tale. Questions about the story will pop up in even days after you tell the story accentuating the fact that children take stories very seriously. This eventually leads to the point that the relation between age and storytelling go hand in hand.

Should it be story ‘telling’ or story ‘reading’?

Reading out Snow White and Seven Dwarfs or Rupanzel to a six month old or even a child of two really makes no sense when what really intrigues them would be stories that are more pictorial and not heavy on content. And if it has to be content, then storytelling in its pure form, rather than reading from a book, makes sense. When you are telling a story, you are in a position to extend 100 per cent attention to the child. Reading, on the contrary, takes away your attention from the child to reading from a book. This eventually takes away the charm of storytelling where tone and expressions is all that matter to children below the age of three.

Skip fairytales for children below age three
Children below three enjoy simple descriptions of the world around them. This means stories related to everyday activities is what they would enjoy the most. You can weave in a story about something she really enjoys doing. This could be a simple thing as cuddling the pet you have in your house or watering a plant or putting her doll to bed. As Rahima Baldwin Dancy shares in her book – You are Your Child’s First Teacher – “Everyday events are great adventures for a toddler, and he loves to live through them again and again in his imagination. It is important to describe things in a natural way, letting your words bring to mind what the child has experienced.”

Before three, introducing fairy tales to your child in fact can be detrimental. It would confuse the young minds between reality and imagination. Stories to one and two year olds should be told in a comforting and soothing tone. More than the content, it is your involvement and time you spend with them that matters. If you are opting for a book, choose a book that has bright or contrasting pictures with some element of touch and feel and even sound to them.

stories for kids under the age of 3

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 Introducing personified stories as your child turns three

Three year olds enjoy stories based on experience. An action replay of your life (the good parts, of course!) with your own parents or some activities you would normally indulge in will engage their little minds. This is also the time when you can introduce adventures of characters known to the little ones – maybe adventures of a dog or a cat or any other animal or bird she is familiar with. But it should be kept in mind that the characters need to be part of the natural surrounding and not be made to fly off a cliff and yet be alive or adding culinary skills to, say, a family of ducks. Simple fairy tales can be introduced at this stage. Something on the lines of Porridge Pot. Fairytales likes these are not complex. They are without any message hence easy for them to understand.

Moving to fairy tales as your child turns older – age four
As you notice language development taking shape along with their reasoning skills showing up, start with short stories with content that can take liberty of moving away from the reality. Though again, till the age of four, make sure that the fairy tales have more good than evil. They need to be more on the cheerful side with just a hint of complexity touching them. E.g – Three Little Pigs, Shoemaker and the Elves and Wolf and Seven Kids.

Moving to fairy tales as your child turns older – age five
As your child turns five, let the tales be challenging. Detailing of circumstances and characters is well understood by five year olds. You can read out to them fairytales such as – Frog Prince, Golden Goose, Snow-white and Rose Red, Rumpelstiltskin, Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs and Hansel and Gretel.

Moving to fairy tales as your child turns older – age six
As your child is ready to move to first grade, you are well entitled to read out a host of fairy tales to her. This is the time when your child will be going through some inner developments making her ready for a new phase in life (like falling of milk teeth). There is an inner battle that they would be fighting which remains oblivious to us. This is the time you should read out tales of struggle and victory. They would immediately relate to them. This is the time to introduce Rapunzel and Cinderella to them.

Cinderella stories for kids at the age of 6

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The do’s and don’ts
An important thing to be kept in mind is your comfort level with the fairy tale. Do not read or tell a tale that does not appeal to you. Your child shall quickly disassociate herself with it. Repetition of stories is a must. A sense of familiarization is enjoyed by little ones as this helps them build their imagination. A very important thing to be kept in mind is making sure that you do not dramatize emotions in any of the stories you share with your child.

Be watchful! As soon as you notice your child losing interest, stop right there. It is a clear indication of the child not relating to the story. Though repetition is good, it is better if you do not over repeat a story out of your personal fascination for it.  The art of storytelling is a good escape for you to be with your child in a place that only belongs to the two of you. As a parent, you shall have a natural instinct to what your child likes hearing and what does not hold her imagination.

A complete edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales can be a handy book for you here!