Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories than Americans – The Atlantic

Dream by DayLast week, The Atlantic came out with a very attention-grabbing article titled, “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories Than Americans” written by Colleen Gillard. Gillard explains that British “…history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.” This is an intriguing concept that immediately had me reading further.

The stories of Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn are both brought up, each representing their respective countries of origination. One side focuses on imagination while the other focuses on realistic settings of everyday life. Gillard brings up the idea that American fantasies differ from British ones because of these themes of realism and lessons learned.

Throughout the article Gillard goes on to explain how history and religion have shaped storytelling in each country and how fantasy is proven to be an important factor in childhood development. The article closes by mentioning recently popular American fantasy novels including The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner. Each of these stories is part of a new trend of fantasy filled with dark twists.

As an American, I have to say that I’m jealous of these British childhood stories filled with fantasy. On the other hand though, I was exposed to Harry Potter and other British children’s books at an early age (thanks mom!) so I can’t say I missed out much.

To read more, here’s a link to the article: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/why-the-british-tell-better-childrens-stories/422859/

12 thoughts on “Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories than Americans – The Atlantic

  1. That’s so interesting! I’ve never really considered it. Looking back now I can remember that the vast majority of the books I read when I was young were books written by British authors, like Enid Blyton, C.S. Lewis, and Roald Dahl, then moving on to Tolkien when I got older.
    This might be a tenuous connection, but I think my childhood reading is definitely reflected in my reading tastes now, because if I look at the adult fiction I prefer to read they are generally books written by British authors, or set in Britain.


  2. I read the article as well and I agree with the writer. I grew up reading mostly British children’s novels and I enjoyed them more than the American ones I was later exposed to. The fantastical elements in them made them more appealing and playful.


  3. What an interesting idea! I’ve always thought that fairy tales are so deeply affecting because their symbolism resonates on a subconscious level. If that is the case, it would make sense that fantasy stories might take children deeper into the realms of imagination than those that emulate real life. That said, I think that you can tell from a mile off whether a book has been written with a moral agenda or not – and that goes for adult books as well. A story written purely because it needed to be told beats one contriving to convey a moral lesson every time!


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