An expert has warned that parents who fail to read traditional fairy-tales to their children are missing the chance to teach their kids the moral code of life.
Increasing numbers of parents in recent years have avoided reading classics such as 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves' to their children because of concerns that they stereotype minority groups.
AdvertisementHowever, child development expert Sally Goddard Blythe has said that fairytales, including 'Rapunzel' and 'Cinderella', are crucial to children's development, reports the Telegraph.
They nurture moral behaviour and show young people the strengths and weaknesses inherent in human nature, by contrasting good and evil, rich and poor and vanity and valour, she said.
In her new book 'The Genius of Natural Childhood', Blythe argues that while fairytales may tackle difficult issues and prepare them for life in the real world.
They also enlist 'children's innate wish for good to triumph', she said.
"Fairytales help to teach children an understanding of right and wrong, not through direct teaching, but through implication. They help to develop imagination and creativity and they help children to understand their own emotional dilemmas in an imaginative way rather than through direct instruction," said Blythe, director of the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester.
"When you don't give children these stereotypes of good and bad, you don't give them a moral code on which to start to develop their own lives," she added.
"Far from demonising the dwarfs, the story of Snow White shows that underlying the physical diversity there can be greater kindness and generosity than is found in the stereotypes of beauty and wealth so lauded by celebrity-worshipping cultures," she writes in the book.
"These stories are not cruel and discriminatory; rather they help children to understand, firstly, the quirks and weaknesses of human behaviour in general, and secondly, to accept many of their own fears and emotions," she added.
Blythe argued that children do need to learn that life isn't always easy or fair and that there is 'joy and sadness, love and loss, growth and degeneration'.
She also called for greater use of fables and nursery rhymes to boost children's development and language skills in her book, which is due to be published shortly by Hawthorn Press.
A survey in 2009 had found that a quarter of mothers rejected some classic fairy tales because they were too frightening and not politically correct enough.