Are Myths and Legends becoming just that, or do they still continue to capture children’s imaginations?
There are many different ways to tell stories and to make children aware of myths and legends. The most popular would be a classic bedtime story- that chance to create a make believe world together, before they enter the other sleepier world of imagination. But with a plethora of more modern tales to choose from, myths and legends can often be overlooked.
Some of the more famous and popular myths and legends are re-told in schools, but again this practice seems to be diminishing.
If all else fails, there is always the very entertaining pantomime season over Christmas, which is another way to immerse children in these stories. This is certainly an area that thankfully seems to be a reliable way to introduce our children to these tales, all be it a short window once a year.
But do myths and legends still play an important part in children’s literature?
Reading to children, and in particular through the genre of myths and legends is seen by many as a safe place for children to experience fear, love and magic.
The vocabulary is such that, the books are easy to illustrate, which means children at different stages of reading ability remain engaged. Myths and Legends still offer some of the most playful and imaginative ways to relate to every day life.
Are the messages embedded in these stories encouraging children to really learn anything from them?
Well yes, many of these stories provide an understandable explanation of natural phenomenons - such as the changing seasons, for example.
The idea of which is told imaginatively in the Greek Myth of Persephone and Hades. It explains beautifully the reason behind the changing of seasons from summer to winter. As Persephone decides to split her time between the underworld and the earth. When she comes back Demeter her mother and, the goddess of the earth, is so happy that all the plants grow again, but as soon as Persephone returns to the underworld the plants wither and die.
Using myths and Legends to explain the worlds natural phenomena is one way of keeping the tales alive, however it is also important for us to think of other ways to engage our children with these classics.
The wonderful thing about Myths and legends is how they can stimulate a conversation between adults and children, encouraging engagement in the tales of good and evil, many contain a moral or theme that is easy for children to grasp. They also give glimpses into the darker parts of life, whilst equipping them with tools to understand and navigate such times.
Grimms’ fairytales are a perfect example, which are encouraging evidence in themselves of the longevity of the myths and legends that make up the classic fairytale.
Sadly Myths and Legends are often left out of school learning as the time to study them is swallowed up by other parts of the curriculum. So it is left to us to find ways to pass these stories down to future generations.
Myths and Legends are a brilliant account of life, nature and the world around us.
Let’s hope we can continue to explain these amazing things in amazing ways. Here at Settle Stories we achieve this through our work sending oral storytellers into schools, touching the lives of over 6,000 young people a year. We also run events for both young and old imaginations. Why not bring your little ones to our next event The Invisibility Hat?
Written by volunteer writer Elizabeth Leighton