This year marks the 25-year anniversary of the National Literacy Trust and the launch of the Department of Education’s new coalition to address statistics showing that 28% of five- year-olds who finish their first year of school are lacking in early language and communication skills. Stories, now more than ever, can create more magic than a pumpkin carriage ever could. Xue says: “Macey is four and started school in September. She’s the best thing that’s happened in my life and I learn so much from her. Her favourite stories are by Dr Seuss. I think fairy tales are very important. Children will learn to believe in love, hope, kindness, genius, bravery and honesty.” The educational aspects of fairy tales are echoed by Dr Catherine Lester, a lecturer in film and television at the University of Birmingham who specialises in children’s horror. She explains: “Fairy tales help us work through our deepest fears, anxieties and desires and teach us the difference between right and wrong. But there is a fun and subversive aspect along with the moral lessons. “For children especially, it can be both thrilling and beneficial to be exposed to dark and scary things, to encounter the Big Bad Wolf when we are young so that we can deal with the ‘real’ monsters as we grow up.”
Over the last 25 years, the National Literacy Trust has worked with two million children. Their research shows that 1 in 8 disadvantaged children do not own a single book. “Stories have the power to transform children’s lives,” says the charity’s director, Jonathan Douglas. “For centuries, fairy tales have been used to help children and adults better understand themselves and the world around them. “Getting books into the hands of children, and helping them to discover a love of reading, is at the very heart of everything we do. This year, we’re aiming to reach more disadvantaged children and families than ever before to give them the literacy skills they need to do well at school, at work and in life.”
You can help by visiting literacytrust.org.uk/donate
Xue’s fairy tale collection is available online and at galleries nationwide.
88 FINE ART COLLECTOR AUTUMN 2018
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