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July-August Issue: Ageless Children’s Literature

July-August Issue: Ageless Children’s Literature

Sample Content from Our Latest Issue Table of Contents Sample Article The firm line drawn between books for children and...
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Gareth Harney’s Moneta

In 1958, Michael Grant published a series of lectures under the title Roman History from Coins. Ten years later he...
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Why Read Novels?

The investment of time in reading novels is time well spent, not time wasted... Why Read Novels? - Joseph Pearce (jpearce.co)
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Short Conversations on Literature

Joseph Pearce and Jan Franczak discuss literature and why it is necessary for civilization... Short Conversations on Literature - Joseph Pearce (jpearce.co)
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The St. Austin Review

The St. Austin Review (StAR) is an international journal of Catholic culture, literature, and ideas. In its pages, printed every two months, some of the brightest and most vigorous minds around meet to explore the people, ideas, movements, and events that shape and misshape our world.

Ageless Children’s Literature

Sample Article The Aesop of France

The firm line drawn between books for children and books for grown-ups is not so old as we might suppose. While we take for granted a certain taxonomy of reading that divides works into categories premised on the idea of a book being appropriate to one age group or another, this is simply another one of our modes of thinking alien to generations past. The tales of Aesop or the Arabian Nights were not intended by their authors as entertainments strictly for children, however many educators and book publishers in later ages have supposed that this precisely was their wish. Had any of us met John Bunyan, and asked him if his Pilgrim’s Progress were meant for the young or the mature, he probably would not have allowed that we had framed the question properly. One lesson we might draw from these considerations is that whatever good we take away from the reading of any book, long or short, simple or complex, is not wholly dependent on the time of life when that book finds us. The practices and fashions that consign some types of reading to one or another stage of life are founded more on whim than reason.

Having mentioned Aesop already, I should mention also that the classic animal fable is, along with the fairy tale, perhaps the literary form most frequently mischaracterized as being essentially a thing for children. There is no real reason why stories of human “types” represented in the forms of animals should be less attractive to men and women than to boys and girls, and some such tales may even be more fully enjoyable in adulthood. The Monkey and the Dolphin, for instance, in which the pretentious simian of the title claims to be a member of one of the noble families of Athens, and then, having tried to support one falsehood with another, is exposed and horribly punished for his dishonesty, belongs, I think, to this class. A six-year-old can read it and find it amusing, but only someone who has encountered and (more to the point) been guilty of snobbery and self-advertisement in its less elegant forms can really be pained by the story as one ought to be. There is more in Aesop than easy laughter.

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