Background Fairy tales have always been an integrated part of children's everyday life. In our days, they still represent important ways of helping the children share their desires and express their agonies and inner conflicts. The present descriptive qualitative study aims to describe parents' opinions and children's preferences regarding storytelling.
Methods Four hundred and seventy parents took part in the study and were interviewed following a semi-structured guide with open-ended trigger questions. Data were processed via content analysis methods.
Results Three main themes were constructed. The vast majority of interviewees acknowledged their strong belief in the power of fairy tales and stated that their children listen to stories at least once a week. Most of them use storytelling as an instructive tool, in order to soothe their children's anxieties or set examples for them. Concerning children's preferences, the majority of them choose classic fairy tales over modern ones with Little Red Riding Hood taking precedence over other famous stories. All participants acknowledged the fact that their children are amused and positively affected by storytelling, while young readers share their enthusiasm for fairy tales in many ways, mostly by talking about their favourite character. Finally, in relation to the villains, children seem to be satisfied or relieved when they are punished and only a small number of participants stated that the cruel punishment of bad characters creates feelings of fear to their kids.
Conclusions The findings of this study emphasize the crucial role that storytelling plays in children's life and normal development.