Reaching back into our memories of childhood, books about characters such as Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle or Winnie-the-Poo might ignite our nostalgia for great reads. But a 2015 study reveals that children actually often prefer reality over fantasy. In the first part of the study, psychologists asked young children what made a better story and had them choose between plausible plots either described as “true” or “make-believe.” Interestingly, the “true” stories received more interest from kids.
Surprised? Aren’t children supposed to love using their imaginations and playing pretend?
The study’s authors explain something adults often overlook. They believe that children are still learning about the world around them and find it fascinating. Children seek facts and explanations from trusted sources, such as grown-ups and books, and use them later in imaginative play. Just consider how preschoolers pretend to cook or play house, following the examples they observe at home.
Another part of the study looked at preschoolers’ preference for fantastical plots versus realistic stories and compared that to adults’ preferences. What they found was that children enjoyed both types of stories equally, while adults leaned toward the imaginary much more.
Librarian Chantelle Hurtekant advises us to let kids follow their interests when selecting books. While some choose fantasy and others pick fact, the most important thing is that they are excited to read whatever book they bring home.
We all want our children to love reading so they can learn about their world and grow their minds. Let’s make reading a priority!