Yes, I’m knitting and reading on vacation too. I’m working my way through the books I got from the Mom Heart Conference, many of them written by members of the Clarkson family. The book I went through quickly this last week was Caught up in a Story. This is written by the eldest Clarkson girl, who is a talented literary critic, and she is currently studying at Oxford. I have other books by Sarah, and I have heard her speak before (she’s fantastic). So keep in mind, this review is coming from a fangirl. My children love every book she has ever recommend that I give them, and Silje will now read any book I hand her without hesitation when I tell her “Sarah said this one was good.”
As an educator, I love how she explains the importance of stories on brain development in a child. It’s easy to see that math and science are important for job security or technology. However, she talks about how stories, and music and art form the brain of a child in a way that science cannot. If we teach a child that the only thing that can be trusted are facts that can be proven, and things they can touch and feel and explain, then we are limiting them indeed. There must be fairytales. There must be legend. One must also teach a child to wonder, to imagine how big or grand, or awe-inspiring something can be if they are to ever believe in a God. They must understand that they are not unconnected, and that every life is a part of a story. Cultures are always steeped in stories, and eliminating stories as well as the arts, is virtually limiting the foundational thinking of that culture from the psyche. Her explanation of how stories actually form a child’s brain how to think is worth reading the book in itself. But there is more.
In our little homeschool, Silje and I have been studying elements of a story: exposition, rising action, crisis, falling action, and denouement. All major stories follow this flow, and Sarah takes this basic premise, and applies it to the life of a child. Children go through these phases of a story, and need stories to walk them through.
Drawing from her own life, and the lives of stellar authors like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, among others, she talks about how stories helped her sort through various circumstances in her Christian walk. Each chapter is based on one of these elements of story, how it applies to a child’s life, and at the end of each chapter, she makes suggestions for books that would help a child through this story-phase of their life.
These suggestions are not organized and thorough like her book Read for the Heart, so don’t expect extensive book lists. If that is what you want, get her other book. She tries to limit each chapter to 10 suggestions at the end, though you can tell she struggles to limit herself to a number that low.
People I think would enjoy this book:
-adults who are well read
-adults who wish they were well read
-parents who are looking for guidance in choosing children’s literature
-parents who are looking for inspiration to make literature a part of their children’s life
-parents who don’t care what their kids read
-non-literary buffs who need enlightenment
Granted, I got my degree in literature. Sarah Clarkson is preaching to the choir with me. Her passion and knowledge for how literature shapes the lives of kids, though, is so exciting.
Linking up with Ginny’s Yarn Along.