I’ve noticed something new in Bella’s imaginary play in the past week: bad guys and conflict and death.
It began when my dad was teasing at the girls while he was doing some work in the bathroom. I’d just told them the story of the three little pigs the night before and dad was pretending to be a wolf, growling at them that he was going to blow their house down. Suddenly Bella ran off to her room to get some pretend “spray” to get rid of the wolf. Very clever. Dad told her that spray doesn’t work on wolves, she’d need a gun. First, she argued that it was special spray and then she eventually caved and got a pretend gun for her other hand. Yeah, we’ve been reading Little Red Riding Hood; but we’ve had that book for a while and this is the first time I’ve heard Bella incorporate a wolf into her imaginative world.
Witches have been appearing in her imaginary play quite a bit of late. Then the other morning I overheard her narrating to herself something about witches being defeated by the Virgin Mary and St Michael the Archangel. I’m trying to pinpoint the source of the witches… I’m thinking it might be Rapunzel or the Wizard of Oz.
In any case, I’m really fascinated by this development because up till now Bella’s world has been pretty tame. Suddenly there is this dramatic conflict that she’s acting out. I’ve noticed that she’s also much more interested in fairy tales just now too. I’m thinking that’s not a coincidence.
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It’s interesting because I just finished reading Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination by Vigen Guroian, a book which delves into fairy tales and other classic stories. It was a great book, although it was not exactly what I was expecting. It doesn’t deal very much with the developmental stages of the children reading the fairy tales. Instead, it presents a reading of major themes in several well-known stories. I think I was wanting something a bit more like The Religious Potential of the Child by Sofia Cavaletti, which really focuses on the child’s reaction to the stories rather than the stories themselves.
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And on a completely different note but still speaking of fairy tales, what is up with Rumpelstiltskin? That’s a fairy tale I can’t quite wrap my head around. Is its primary purpose to warn about bragging and greed? What is Rumplestiltskin going to do with the baby anyway?
Bella loves the Paul Zelinsky retelling and we’ve been reading it quite a bit this week along with his Rapunzel (another strange story!) She says because the little man is funny.