What are you reading right now? I hope your answer is not “nothing”……I wrote a blog post on the value of reading fairy tales. And I promised you a reading list for those of you who wanted to take up the challenge to delight again in fairy tales. I took a wee break from picking up that theme because of a little hurricane named Dorian, but here I am, ready to make some suggestions.
I recently read Vigen Guroian’s book Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination. Guroian suggests types of virtues displayed in classic tales. I should also offer the disclaimer to guide your reading – please select the original versions of these tales, NOT the Disney version. Sadly, Disney often takes liberties with the original story line that water down, or in some cases, negate entirely the moral virtues originally intended.
What it Means to be Human
We live in a culture that is incredibly confused about our identity. What does it really mean to be human? What makes us different from the animals or from robots….or from puppets? Spend some time reading Pinocchio by C. Collodi (Pseudonym of Carlo Lorenzini), Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, or The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen.
Love and Immortality
What does it mean to be loved? This question flows naturally from the previous question. And while many a pop song strives to give an answer to this question, our hearts are not satisfied with catchy lyrics. I find it interesting that Guroian’s recommended reading on the topic of love (and immortality) involve stories of great sacrifice. I can think of another true story of love and sacrifice. At any rate, check out these classic stories: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by the Brothers Grimm, and The Golden Key by George MacDonald.
Friends and Mentors
Love and friendship are so closely tied to one another. I think most of us want to have “good” friendships, and a (perhaps) smaller number of us also crave someone who could serve as a mentor to us. But we often don’t know where to look for such friends and mentors, nor do we recognize those who may already be in our sphere. Maybe our confusion and frustration is because we have a hard time recognizing such relationships. Reading classic stories where such themes are woven into the engaging plot line helps to cement in our minds (and the minds of our children) what true friendship looks like. So grab one of these books to get started: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Bambi by Felix Salten, and The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame.
Evil and Redemption
We no longer live in a world that is all good. Evil abounds, and sometimes, it seems that redemption is hard to find. Redemption stories abound in classic tales! Reading such stories reminds our hearts that there is more to our world than just what our eyes can see. Start your journey with these phenomenal tales: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, The King of the Golden River by John Rushkin, and The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis.
Faith and Courage
Because we live in a world stained with evil, living a life of redemption, friendship, and love often requires great faith and courage. Interestingly, Guroian chose to focus on female heroines in classic tales. As a mother of two girls, I am particularly interested in stories that highlight the bravery of female characters. Although, I also think our boys would benefit from seeing such courage in girls as well. So check out these books: The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.
As I read through Guroian’s book, I discovered that I have read almost all of the stories he mentioned. In addition, I have read many of them to my children. I will confess that I had never read The Princess and the Goblin. However, my oldest daughter said “oh Mom, it’s a wonderful book!!” So I promptly checked it out of the library and read it. Much like my daughter, I, too, think it is a wonderful book!
So dust off that library card, or dig into that box of “old books” you’ve stored away, or just grab it off the shelf in your living room. Or click the links above and use that Prime membership! Let’s get reading! Leave me a comment below on which of these stories above is a favorite of yours, or which one you’re going to discover first!