Thursday, June 11, 2015

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book

Anita Silvey compiled "Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life" for this book.

The notables include many great writers, but also a heart surgeon, a TV film critic, at least one librarian (Yay!), a physics professor, a cancer researcher, a climate scientist, and so on. I'll quote Azar Nafisi's recommendation (She wrote Reading Lolita in Tehran, a wonderful memoir/piece of history, by the way.)

I first heard about The Thousand and One Nights when I was about four, and my father each night would choose to tell me a story from the treasure trove of Persian classical literature. The last time I read it was for a private class I had with seven of my female students in 1995. I love Scheherazade's tale; like all great works of imagination, it is simple and yet profound, opening so many windows to the luminous worlds hidden in the depth of what we call everyday reality. To me this story contains a hidden theme -- old and timeless -- about the power of stories to reshape and redefine reality. It reminds me of what Vladimir Nabokov called the "third eye of imagination," helping us to see and envision the world and ourselves through fresh and new eyes.

Other books recommended in this collection include Encyclopedia Brown, Kidnapped, The Call of the Wild, Wild Animals I Have Known (That's one I'll have to look for. It's by Ernest Thomas Seton, and has been in print over 110 years!), Pink Ice Cream (Hmmm...), Madeline, Little House in the Big Woods, My Side of the Mountain, and on and on...

This book is going to supply me with good reads for quite a while, I think. Thank you, Anita Silvey!

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