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British headmaster Graeme Whiting has gone on record claiming that fantasy books cause mental illness.
Odd, that. I thought that mental illness causes fantasy books.
But seriously: one of the greatest gifts parents and educators can give a child is the gift of an open mind. And imaginative stories–fantasy literature and fairy tales, but also Shakespeare and the Bible–are a great way to nurture an open, inquisitive mind.
My own children love tales of imagination, with magic, monsters, and strange worlds, and at 5 and 6 are perfectly capable of distinguishing between the real world they know, and the world of the story.
It is only when adults insist to the children in their care that the stories are real, that the lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur. How can a child ever really grasp that Snow White, Harry Potter and the Odyssee are fictional, but the Bible is supposed to be true? Recent research has even shown that children raised to believe in the Bible have more trouble separating fantasy from reality than children who weren’t.
So please don’t ban fantasy books for children; it is sufficient to stop teaching them that one particular fantasy book is true.