Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)




Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WORLDS IN WORDS ON PAPER

Years ago, I remember asking a dear family friend, Fr. Jack Sparks, whether fairy tales and fantasy books were as important for children as historical novels, biographies, non-fiction books, and the "classics". I had begun home-schooling our three children and was hearing some mixed opinions on the most beneficial literature for kids. Fr. Jack had his PhD and had taught at Penn State University back in the 1960's. So, to be honest, I was expecting a very academic answer. I was pleasantly surprised by his reply about his "Oz Summer"...

When he was eight years old - in 1936 - young Jack spent months in bed following a ruptured appendix and long hospital stay. Besides all the well-known children's literature his mother could find, she read aloud L. Frank Baum's "OZ" books to him. Those stories took them to a magic land very different from his own home in Indiana and stirred his imagination like nothing else ever had. He ended our conversation by saying, "You know," - with the ever-present twinkle in his eye - "I look forward to giving each of my grandchildren their OZ Summer, the year they turn eight!"

Well, I could hardly wait to go to the library that week - and let me say, we were not disappointed! The books are filled with some of the most imaginative writing I've ever come across. It's no wonder that THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ (published in 1900) became a best seller! Baum received over 10,000 letters from children begging for a sequel! (There are fourteen total in the series written by Baum and nine are still in print).

Jim Trelease writes about L. Frank Baum: "He was America's first science fiction writer. Indeed, as often happens in sci-fi, some of his imagining eventually became reality. Fourteen years after Baum wrote about a mechanical man, the word "robot" was coined - but Baum imagined him first. Fifty years before Walt Disney created a real magical kingdom, Baum imagined one. And almost a half-century before Dr. Suess gave us fluff-muffled Truffles, Poozers, Skinks, and one-wheeler Wubbles, Baum created Wheelers, Scoodlers, Munchkins, Skeezes, and Quadlings."

List of OZ Books, in the order written, that are still in print: THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ; THE MARVELOUS LAND OF OZ; OZMA OF OZ; DOROTHY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ; THE EMERALD CITY OF OZ; THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ; THE LITTLE WIZARD SERIES; and TIK-TOK OF OZ. (See thewizardofoz.info for a list of all the books and answers to any questions you could ever have about the series),

"I learned to live in books, to find worlds in words on paper."
+Fr. Jack N. Sparks, Memory Eternal
December 3, 1928-February 8, 2010

2 comments:

Amanda said...

Wendy, so glad to have this resource! We visit the library each week but sometimes I do find myself wandering - or more like quickly dashing down - the aisles without knowing which book to try next. I'm excited to follow along!

bluecanopy said...

Thank you for doing this, Wendy!

I remember first discovering "Honey for a Child's Heart" on your bookshelf a few years ago. My copy now lives in our library bag tote and comes with us each trip and I thumb through it as we browse the aisles.

I'm looking forward to your wisdom and insight!