“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” Albert Einstein
I would add – read them more fairy tales with BRILLIANT ILLUSTRATIONS!
I think we are all in agreement, that the content of the story is immensely important, and fairy tales are powerful character-making tools in the upbringing of our children. But the illustrations are, also, absolutely crucial for every child! Do not underestimate your children: they may not be able to read yet, but they will recognize and remember some images forever!
There are so many brilliant modern illustrators out there: The 20 Most Beautiful Children’s Books of All Time.
But I am old school, stuck to what I know, so if the book worked for me, I also read it to my child. Unfortunately I found, that not all “old school” children’s books illustrators are as promoted as others. I would like to praise my 3 absolute favorite artists, whose talent places them on the same level with Sir John Tenniel (Alice in Wonderland) and Beatrix Potter (Tale of Peter Rabbit):
1. The multi-talented Italian artist Libico Maraja (1912-1983) was one of Italy’s top post-War illustrators.
The illustrator’s work is a sort of stage direction, a personal theatre built so that everybody can identify themselves with it and life bursts out of its literature in the mellow truth of its proportions. Libico Maraja
After the war, he became well-known for his book illustrations for ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Peter Pan’, and many other classics. You may not believe it, but, when I started to read Pinocchio to my toddler, I found I remember EVERY picture in detail! The magnitude of his talent is astounding!
2. The Russian artist and writer Vladimir Suteev (1903 – 1993) , one of the most famous illustrators and cartoonists in Russia.
Many illustrations in his books are taken from his cartoons. Suteev’s collection of drawings could be considered as a “Russian classic” for preschool ages and he is generally regarded as the founder of animated cartoon industry, in the Soviet Union. It is hard to find his books in English; the only one I came across is Suteev’s “Fairy Tales and Pictures, 1963”. His illustrations and storytelling abilities are such, that it is fairly easy to make up the story just by looking at the pictures. My 4 year old is getting quite good at this- no reading required!
3. Ivan Bilibin (1876 – 1942) a famous Russian illustrator and stage designer, who was inspired by Slavic folklore throughout his career. His gorgeous illustrations of collections of Russian fairy tales, are full of fantasy, folklore and traditional elements of embroidery, making every fairy tale absolutely unforgettable. By creating unique frames and ornaments on every page, Bilibin is meticulously linking the text to the drawings and creating an effect of “a door opening” into a fairyland.
Stories with his illustrations have been simply “embedded” in my brain! You can buy English versions of his books on Amazon.