Dragons, Stories and Your Children
I am enjoying Michael O’Brien’s book, A Landscape With Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind. The opening portion provides a good description of the role of stories in moral formation, particularly distinguishing good and bad and facing the real fears of the world.
His overview of how Christianity shaped the patterns of older stories but this shaping influence has largely given way to the influence of paganism is very helpful for parents in thinking about books for their children. He argues that fear of “monsters” is not something to be ridiculed; rather, “It is a wise parent who recognizes the first awakenings of these mute dreads as the first buds of a spiritual faculty” (19). His own account of how his mother dealt with the fears of his childish fears is inspiring and instructive.
I have not completed the book, but his arguments thus far have much in common with those of C. S. Lewis (commented on previously here and here)
Here are a few more good quotes:
I want them to read plenty of stories in which there are dragons that act like dragons and meet a dragon’s end. (33)Their interior life had need of the tales that inform them of their danger and instruct them at deep levels about the tactics of their enemy. It is good that our children fear dragons, for in the fearing, they can learn to overcome fear with courage. Dragons cannot be tamed, and it is fatal to enter into dialogue with them. The old stories have taught our children this. (33)The imagination must be fed good food, or it will become the haunt of monsters. (33)