Is fantasy literature safe and healthy for children? Let’s look at addictive, psychological and separation issues. Opponents of fantasy literature worry about the fearful aspects of fantasy. They contend that fantasy literature threatens emotionally fragile children by its unreality. Fantasy may create an existential crisis wherein the child cannot separate fantasy from reality. Reading fantasy literature may produce what is called in special education “perseverative behavior.” The concern is that kids who read fantasy literature will only read fantasy and never explore other genres. Here are some issues.
Concern: Children will only read fantasy literature. They will not try other genres.
Fact: ANY LITERATURE CAN BE ADDICTIVE IF YOU LOVE IT. FANTASY LITERATURE BY ITSELF DOES NOT DEVELOP ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR.
Dilemma: Do children need to explore other genres? How can we encourage them to do that?
Resolve: Read various forms of literature with the child. Don’t worry if the child gravitates to a particular genre. Most readers do that. If a child exhibits obsessive behaviors, seek help for that problem. Fantasy literature is not the problem. Obsessive behavior is.
PSYCHOLOGICAL AND FEAR ISSUE:
Concern: Fantasy literature is terrifying and will damage children psychologically.
Facts: EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY KIDS NATURALLY PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM WHAT IS TOO SCARY FOR THEM. .
Fairy tales, moral stories and Bible stories are fear-based. When I very young, Christians would pass out warning “tracts.” The stories were distorted and terrifying. The images depicted lurid visions of evil. Fairy tales were written to warn children. The object was to frighten children into good behavior.
Dilemma: If fear is dangerous for children, how do we defend fear-based instruction? How do we account for the fact that children love to be scared?
Resolve: Stop using fear as a teaching tool. Understand child psychological development. Take each child on a case by case basis. If a child is overly fearful, gently guide her to less frightening literature.
Concern: Children will think that fantasy literature is reality.
Fact: EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY CHILDREN CAN SEPARATE FANTASY FROM REALITY: Fantasy is a form of escape. This is therapeutic. Fantasy literature is a safe way explore options. Fantasy literature is a vicarious thrill. This can be said of any literature. I love murder mystery, but I have no intention of committing murder.
Dilemma: Can children read fantasy and still know how to interact socially?.
Resolve: If children cannot separate from fantasy, this is a manifestation of a deeper problem. As with perseverance behavior, problems with reality will occur regardless of literature choice.
To follow this series of articles and learn more about children’s literature, visit me at www.kidzliterature.blogspot.com . For more about emotional health, visit me at www.emotionalhealthhelp.blogspot.com.