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Children’s stories are short stories, each full of adventures, excitement, sadness and more. They are usually filled with a minimal amount of words and are filled with many pictures. As such, these stories are responsible for giving children a creative imagination. These stories consist of stereotypes, morals/lessons, different gender roles, the ideas of good vs. evil, and even the concepts of beauty and fantasy. However, children’s stories are also capable of giving a child wrong ideas about the real world in which they live.
There are many examples of stereotypes in the children’s stories, and they are responsible for leading children to the idea that stereotypes in stories can be used to judge people and things in the real world. The dictionary definition of stereotypes is “to believe unfairly that all people or things with particular characteristics are the same.” Evidence of a stereotype can be found in the books, “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Snow White” and so on, promoting that all step mothers are cruel and evil. For example, in the book, “Cinderella”, a girl had a cruel and evil stepmother who forced her to work all day long. According to this story, the step mother only provided the best for her actual daughters. This is a stereotype, because in reality this is not always true. In fact, the majority of step mothers in the non-fictional world are people who love and care for their children as their own. Sadly, even today, the idea that all step mothers are cruel and evil lingers on. The impression of all stepmothers being cruel and evil is absurd as there are about 36 million stepmothers only in the United States. Just imagine how many more stepmothers there are in the entire world. It is impossible to claim that all of those ladies are unkind and cruel.
Another example of a stereotype in the children’s stories is found in the role of a man and a woman in children’s stories. The book, “Rapunzel” is an example of where this stereotype is shown. “Rapunzel” is about a woman who is held captive in a tower, and so she must be “rescued” by a man. According to this story, this stereotype states that the woman who is being rescued should be beautiful, innocent, and so on. It also shows that the man who is rescuing the woman should be handsome, brave, strong and many more. This stereotype is not only displayed in Rapunzel but in many other stories as well, such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Beauty and the Beast” and so on. Hence, the stereotypes in the children’s stories establish biased views about the role of women and men among young girls and boys living in the 21st century.
Many children’s stories involve a Good versus Evil theme. This type of theme is one of the most enjoyed themes as it is typically full of suspense. Yet, these types of stories are not always the best to read about. An example of a good vs. evil children’s story is “Hansel and Gretel.” In this story, the good guys (the protagonists) are Hansel and Gretel and the bad guys (the antagonists) are their step mother and the cannibal witch. These children were living the most miserable life when their mother died, and when their step mother arrived, their life became much, much worse. They were abandoned in the forest by their step mother and were captured by a cannibal witch. In the end, Gretel pushed the cruel witch into the oven, and they brought back her riches and lived happily ever after with their father. This ending portrayed that good always conquers evil and also that life will be full of “happily ever after” endings. These kinds of story lines end up teaching young minds that life will always end up with a “happy endings” after one goes through various troubles and hardships. Ultimately, the “happily ever after” endings and the “good conquers evil” endings often create a false deception for children as they teach them that there is a rainbow around every corner.
Overall, children’s stories are an essential part of a child’s life as they give them an introduction to fiction and something to love and enjoy as they grow up. Through the research conducted, it seems as though children’s stories give possibly more of a negative outcome on young children than a positive outcome. False stereotypes such as all stepmothers are cruel and evil and the role of a man and a woman, the “good conquers evil” plot and the “happily ever after” endings which are often embedded in children’s stories are enough to confuse a child about the difference between the real and the fictional world.
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