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In the Critics section of this week’s double issue New Statesman, author Philip Pullman takes on our guest-editor Richard Dawkins and muses over why fairy tales are good for children.
Pullman addresses Dawkins’s worry that reading fairy tales to children “might lead to an anti-scientific cast of mind, in which people were prepared to believe that things could change into other things”. Pullman writes: “Stories of every kind, from the most realistic to the most fanciful, have nourished their imagination and helped shape their moral understanding… Children whose parents take the trouble to sit and read with them will grow up to be more fluent and confident not only with language but with pretty well any kind of intellectual activity, including science. And children who are deprived of… the world of stories are not likely to flourish at all.”