Friday, July 3, 2009

The Power of Stories in Childhood - New Book by Maria Tatar

There's a new book out by renowned fairy tale and folklore scholar Maria Tatar.

This one,
explores what happens when children are read fairy tales (and other classic fantasy) as part of their growing-up experience.

From Amazon:

Highly illuminating for parents, vital for students and book lovers alike, Enchanted Hunters transforms our understanding of why children should read. Ever wondered why little children love listening to stories, why older ones get lost in certain books? In this enthralling work, Maria Tatar challenges many of our assumptions about childhood reading. Much as our culture pays lip service to the importance of literature, we rarely examine the creative and cognitive benefits of reading from infancy through adolescence. By exploring how beauty and horror operated in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, and many other narratives, Tatar provides a delightful work for parents, teachers, and general readers, not just examining how and what children read but also showing through vivid examples how literature transports and transforms children with its intoxicating, captivating, and occasionally terrifying energy. In the tradition of Bruno Bettelheim’s landmark The Uses of Enchantment, Tatar’s book is not only a compelling journey into the world of childhood but a trip back for adult readers as well.

Here's a short video in which she talks about why she wrote the book and what it's about:

Enchanted Hunters by Maria Tatar

And in the link below, John J. Miller from 'Between the Covers' at National Review Online talks to Ms. Tatar about her book.

There's also an excellent, in depth, review here by Michael Dirda for The Washington Post, which takes you through her approach and the contents of the chapters.

Maria Tatar recently (in the last few years) released her "The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales" (shown above) & "The Annotated Brothers Grimm" (shown below) which touch on some of the same issues, though in a very different way. Both volumes are beautifully presented with classic story texts, a gorgeous variety of fairy tale art and lots of fascinating annotations throughout. There's a lovely review of the "Annotated Classic Fairy Tales", from the Harvard University Gazette, here, which I completely agree with.

I've never regretted adding Ms. Tatar's books to my library. Although her academic prowess and respect in Harvard circles and beyond is formidable, her books are very lively, fascinating and accessible reads - not to mention a wonderful resource/reference to have handy.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of her latest offering and read it for myself.

NOTE: I also just discovered her blog! I'm adding it to my Fairy Tale News Sources section. No doubt she'll give us a 'heads-up' on many interesting things...
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