First posted on The Crazy Corner blog, here it is in its original form.
Not every child will go on to invent something like the iPhone, but they all will make their own way through life, and fantasy can teach them the skills to make the right choices. Bruno Bettelheim, in his 1975 book The Uses of Enchantment, says, “Although the events which occur in fairy tales are often unusual and most improbable, they are always presented as ordinary, something that could happen to you or me or the person next door when out on a walk in the woods. Even the most remarkable encounters are related in casual, everyday ways in fairy tales.” From these encounters, children learn to deal with similar experiences in their own lives. From Harry Potter, children learn perseverance. You can vanquish the bad guy if you hang in there and keep trying. From Percy Jackson, they learn the value of working together as a team. Both series show the value of friendship, and how to deal with the ups and downs of those relationships.
Very learned scholars have debated the issue of reading fantasy, both for adults and for children. At the very least, if a young person enjoys reading fantasy they are reading. By doing so they improve their knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure as well as reading comprehension. As a parent and a teacher, if my child enjoys doing something that benefits them, I will make sure they have the opportunity to continue doing so.