It turns out that fantasy – the established domain of British children’s literature – is critical to childhood development. With faeries as voices from the earth, from beyond human history, with a different take on the meaning of life and way of understanding death, Bateman says there’s wisdom in recognizing nature as a greater life force. “Pagan folklore keeps us humble by reminding us we are temporary guests on earth—a true parable for our time.”
Today there may be more reason than ever to find solace in fantasy. With post-9/11 terrorism fears and concern about a warming planet, Griswold says American authors are turning increasingly to fantasy of a darker kind – the dystopian fiction of The Hunger Games, The Giver, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Like the collapse of the Twin Towers, these are sad and disturbing stories of post-apocalyptic worlds falling apart, of brains implanted with computer chips that reflect anxiety about the intrusion of a consumer society aided by social media. This is a future where hope is qualified, and whose deserted worlds are flat and impoverished. But maybe there’s purpose. If children use fairy tales to process their fears, such dystopian fantasies (and their heroes and heroines) may model the hope kids need today to address the scale of the problems ahead.
Colleen Gillard, “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories”, The Atlantic (6 January 2016) [http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/why-the-british-tell-better-childrens-stories/422859/]