Friday, May 18, 2007

Lloyd Chudley Alexander
January 30, 1924-May 17, 2007

Lloyd Alexander words on the importance of writing and reading fantasy:

When asked how to develop intelligence in young people, Einstein answered: "Read fairy tales. Then read more fairy tales." I can only add: Yes, and the sooner the better. Fairy tales and fantasies nourish the imagination. And imagination supports our whole intellectual and psychological economy. Not only in literature, music, and painting spring from the seedbed of imagination; but, as well, all the sciences, mathematics, philosophies, cosmologies. Without imagination, how could we have invented the wheel or the computer? Or toothpaste? Or nuclear weapons? Or speculate "What if—?" Or have any compassionate sense what it's like to live in another person's skin?

For me, writing fantasy for young people has surely been the most creative and liberating experience of my life. As a literary form, fantasy has let me express my own deepest feelings and attitudes about the world we're all obliged to live in.

A paradox? Creating worlds that never existed as a way to gain some kind of insight into a world that is very real indeed? The paradox is easily resolved. Whatever its surface ornamentation, fantasy that strives to reach the level of durable art deals with the bedrock of human emotions, conflicts, dilemmas, relationships. That is to say: the realities of life.

As adults, we know that life is a tough piece of business. Sometimes the most heroic thing we can do is get out of bed in the morning. I think it's just as tough for young people. On an emotional level, a child's anguish and a child's joy are as intense as our own. Young people recognize their own inner lives while they journey through a world completely imaginary.

I don't mean to imply that works of realism haven't the same profound effect on young readers. Of course they do. More often than not, however, realism tends to deal with material of immediate, current interest; with, to use a word much overused, what is relevant. All well and good. But there's a difference between what is relevant and what is merely topical. The topical goes away after a while, to be replaced by the next fashionable subject; the newest literary disease of the month, as it were. The best fantasy it seems to me, is permanently relevant. Because it deals metaphorically with basic human situations, it always has something to say to us. Also, I think that fantasy offers a certain vividness and high spiritedness unique to itself. We shouldn't underestimate the value of sheer fun, delight, and excitement. In any art, boredom is not a virtue.

Dealing with the impossible, fantasy can show us what may be really possible. If there is grief, there is the possibility of consolation; if hurt, the possibility of healing; and above all, the curative power of hope. If fantasy speaks to us as we are, it also speaks to us as we might be.

From the Children's Book Council Magazine archives:

Read more about Lloyd Alexander's life and work, at:

Teachers and parent resources for Lloyd Alexander
and his many wonderful books:
Hurrah for Al Roker- Literacy Hero!

Al Roker,of NBC's Today Show has started a on-air book club for young readers that will continue through the summer. Young people's books rarely receive media coverage; educational issues in general have fallen of the nation's media screen. We applaud NBC and Roker and hope the book club continues past summer. Watch Roker's kid's club when it airs ---watch it with the kids in your life. And take notice of Roker's selections. It will be interesting to see if all the books suggestions are Scholastic publications for it appears that Scholastic is sponsoring the book club segment. We hope that the book club exceeds the commercial interests of Scholastic publications and promotes kids reading many great books this summer not just the great books from Scholastic.

Newsweek Magazine also features kid's book clubs in an article of interest: Key quote:
“The more cool reading is, the better,” says Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted. "Reading starts to fall off in middle school and in high school. If you can find a means to keep those kids reading, to rope them back in, to make reading part of their social world, then a book club has really done something fabulous.”

Actually reading starts to fall off by age 8-9. Parents stop reading aloud to kids when they perceive that their kids have become independent readers---about the ages 8-9.
Hhhhmmmm, could there be a connection?

Read more:
Al Roker Book Club:

Newsweek book club article:

Help your kids start their own book club this summer! Need help? Go to: