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Children are the audiences of stories told in multiple forms and modalities: communal story-telling around fireplaces or at dinner tables, bedtime story reading, children’s television and radio programmes, and children’s theatre performances. Narratives create fictive worlds of fantasy but, like children’s play, they also offer insights into psychosocial life and children’s development.

The seminal psychoanalytic work of Bruno Betelheim suggested that European fairy tales may be thought of as reflecting inner unconscious psychological conflicts, providing resources for the resolution of these conflicts and contributing to psychodynamic development. However, those who adopt a psychosocial framework for thinking about children’s development argue that imagined narrative worlds are not only linked to the inner psychological worlds of children but also to the material and cultural realities of the social ...

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