Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Book Review: Tending the Heart of Virtue by Vigen Guroian

Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral ImaginationTending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination by Vigen Guroian

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Own.

I really enjoyed this when I was reading it.  I've been "in the middle of it" for far too long because it is a dense book (or maybe I'm a dense reader). He packs a lot into each sentence.  So I would read some, carry it to a different room and let it set, then read some more, let it set, then read some more.  I think it probably took me a year to get through it. 

I've heard Guroian speak on CD both on The Mars Hill Audio Journal and CiRCE Annual Conference and found myself reading in his voice.  I think that helped me love it, as he has a kindly, deep, growly voice. What he has to say is perhaps better said aloud than in print. I notice that his "Mentor" talk from CiRCE (a favorite of mine) helped me understand those sections of TtHoV better.

In this book, Guroian makes the argument that the books that we read to children matter and that we need to read literature to them that is more than what it seems.  He goes on to give examples explicating different stories and literature on five themes.  We've read - or listened to - many of the stories he indicates in the book, so it was interesting to see how he discussed the stories. 

My friend, Anna from Mahers Hill Academy,  recently read Michael D O'Brien's A Landscape of Dragons and lent it to me, it should be interesting to compare and contrast with Guroian, particularly regarding Wind in the Willows which Guroian recommends but O'Brien cautions.



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7 comments:

  1. I don't think O'Brien writes about The Wind in the Willows specifically, but his cautions about neo-paganism in children's stories made me wonder about that chapter were they meet Pan. (I just looked Pan up on Wikipedia - yikes. I got more than I bargained for there, but the article does mention his appearance in WitW).

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    1. Ah. I misunderstood. I think I'll stat this today. Thanks, Anna.

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  2. I'm about halfway through this book and you are right, it's one of those books that needs to be digested in small doses.

    He's inspired me to read Pinocchio (all I know about is the Disney version) so I'm reading it aloud to my daughter this summer.

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    1. Tonia, we read Pinnochio last fall. Unfortunately we didnt adore it ... The children did but it was kind of dry to us. We did read - and love - Bambi, A Life in the Forest which was at his recommendation. All the other books he recs were enjoyed.

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  3. I'm just starting O'Brien's Landscape book and skimming around the table of contents was kind of glad to see him raise some concerns about l'Engle. I've always wondered about her books even though I've read many years ago, they always seemed very strange to me. Will look into the book you've reviewed here, thanks.
    And thanks for your comment on my blog post from A Severe Mercy. :)

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    1. I love L'Engle. She's one of my favorite authors. She's a bit of a universalist and some of her books have, IMO, content I'm uncomfortable with for myself let alone my teen. Anyway, I think the three Wrinkle in Time books and the Austin family books are excellent and several of her adult novels are fantastic. There is some Christianity hidden there even underneath the Universalism and her three memoirs are really really good. Start with The Suummer of the Great Grandmother. You wont be disappointed.

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  4. I enjoyed both Tending the Heart of Virtue and Landscape of Dragons. Though I didn't agree with everything the authors said, I appreciated their insights.

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