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07 April 2015 @ 09:02 pm
Give us books, give us wings  
The quote in the title is from a remarkable book, one many of you have most likely not read. You. Should. It is from Paul Hazard's BOOKS, CHILDREN AND MEN (1943). I remember reading it during the course of my doc work. I was at the beach, cracked open the book intending to read a few pages before soaking in the surf. Hours later, sunburned, I headed inside to finish reading it. I could not put down this remarkable manifesto about the important role of books in the lives of children.
One blogger gushed about the book here: http://www.storynory.com/2013/11/25/11901/.

Back to the quote: Give us books. Give us wings. Books do give us wings (and not like Red Bull does, BTW). Historical fiction gives us wings that transport us to past times and other places. These wings permit us to experience history as if we were there. Think of some of your favorites. Patricia Polacco's PINK AND SAY, SARAH PLAIN AND TALL by Patricia MacLachlan, Paul Fleischmann's BULL RUN.

Fantasy and science fiction gives us wings. On those wings we can fly to Narnia, to Middle Earth, to Hogwarts, and to worlds imagined but not discovered (yet?). I can have a carking good time on Mars with BLACK HOLE SUN by David Gill. Or I can experience "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury. I can plunge into darkness screaming "Manchee" in Patrick Ness' THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO.

Poetry wings can sprout (and not just in April, please) as I read novels in verse: THE CROSSOVER, BROWN GIRL DREAMING, CRANK. I can read Paul Janeczko's new collection, THE DEATH OF THE HAT, with illustrations by Chris Raschka and travel through centuries of poetry. I can read WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS one more time and revel in Shel Silverstein's ability to make me laugh and then cry within the span of a single poem (The Little Boy and the Little Old Man).

Traditional stories can take me to "once upon a time" and then tell me so many variations of the story that I wonder how they all came into being. I can read POISONED APPLES or THROUGH THE WOODS or A TRAIL OF STONES or KNIVES, LIES AND GIRLS IN RED DRESSES and see the more adult content of those early fairy tales.

Books can indeed give wings to children. They can also remind us that we, too, can fly.
 
 
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