What kind of story do kids prefer?

- Categories : Child Sleep , Parents Corner

We just have to take a look at our children's library to realize the importance of fictional stories. Fire-breathing dragons, talking lions, a butler table... It seems that most of the stories told to our children revolve around fantasy and magic worlds. Yet, these fabulous worlds are not always beneficial! So, fiction or reality? Which stories do our children prefer?

True stories or fictional stories: the experiment!

In 2015, an American study decided to conduct an experiment to answer that question! Children aged 4 to 5 years old were given a story described as being true, and another story described as fictional.

To avoid the story being biased by the title, each book was described as being inspired by a fantasy world for some children, then described as being inspired by true facts for others. For example: the book "A little girl/little boy finds a dinosaur bone in her/his garden!" was described as a true story, and the book "A little girl/little boy finds a buried treasure in the park!" was described as fictional for the first child. The second child was offered the opposite and so on...


Most children aged 4 to 5 years old (85%) showed a greater interest in stories described as being true. The experiment was also conducted for children aged 6 to 7 years old as well as for adults. Result: the interest for fictional stories is greater for older children, while adults choose both types of stories equally. This experiment is surprising when we know that most of the stories for children are made of talking animals and fantasy creatures. Don't hesitate to do the test at home! Give two stories to your child, one based on a true story and a fictional one. Your child's choice might surprise you!

But then one might wonder why younger children prefer true stories. UrbanHello investigated the matter and may have found the answer!

Children and imagination

Children have a much more developed imagination than adults. Ignoring the laws that govern the world, they invent rules themselves to make up for their lack of knowledge. A simple jump can make them land on another planet, flapping wings allow them to fly away etc.

Of course, it is nature itself that gradually plays the role of a teacher. By connecting a cause to its effect, your child gradually learns to grow: pushing a bowl can make it fall, pressing on piano keys produce a sound. Very quickly, your child learns that these experiments are enriching and positive. So, she/he naturally tends to want to test lots of things, like helping you cook, combing her/his own hair or getting dressed by herself/himself for example.

Therefore, stories represent a fun and useful source of information. They stimulate their thirst for knowledge a bit and help them to better understand the world around them. On the contrary, fictional stories would leave more room for fantasy and would play a different role.

What to choose: a tale or a true fact?

Each story type has its interest. Fantasy stories allow your child to make her/his imagination work. Indeed, the latter will have to imagine the elements of the story. What is the dragon's size? Is the little child dark-haired or blond? It is even recommended to leave some blanks in the story on purpose and to not be too descriptive so as to invite your child to let her/his imagination express itself. That work is very important as it will allow her/him to make connections and to gradually build her/his intelligence.

True stories or "life stories" can teach things to your child. Do not hesitate to stage real life elements such as angry parents or arguments between two friends. These stories simulating real life allow her/him to transpose her/his own problems and questions. It will be easier for her/him to know how to react when facing a similar situation. Be careful though about not turning each story into a "medicine" or a "guide" on how to react in any situation. It is sometimes best to have a direct discussion or to soothe very strong emotions with kisses or hugs.

Our tips:

Alternate story types and enjoy the benefits of each of them! To go further, feel free to put some real-life effects in your fantasy stories or add a little bit of magic in your "true" stories!

Ask your child what she/he prefers. She/He will tell you if she/he needs to learn or if she/he wants to escape and use her/his imagination.

Try to favor stories that are more based on true facts for children aged less than 6 years old, if your child likes that. Each story will allow them to learn and to better grasp the challenges lying ahead.

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