In childhood, my favorite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale was ‘‘The ‘Snow Queen,’ in which little Gerda undertakes a long, dangerous journey to rescue her friend, Hans. Gerda’s mission is to thaw the Snow Queen’s cold logic that froze Hans’ heart, and to set his feelings free again. The thought that a little girl could fulfill such a mission meant the world to me. The story seemed to call me to an adventure, but I had no map.
In time, storytelling became my way of freeing children’s imaginations from the icy isolation that numbed Hans’s heart. Fairy tales, our stories from a greener time, give us connection to nature, to other cultures, and to the eternal quirks of human nature. I believe that children’s favorite tales ask something in return: that each child finds and fulfills a heart-felt mission of her or his own.
I ask children to draw a map of their favorite story to deepen its impact.