Tag Archives: Children

When the World Is Mud-Luscious

e. e. cummings ushers in spring with a joyous celebration.

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What Draws Kids to Eating Dramas

Eating stories enthrall my grandchildren because they reenact the childhood drama of separating from the parents and developing autonomous selves.

Posted in Bannerman (Helen), Carle (Eric), Longfellow (Henry Wadsworth) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Child Heroines Who Die for Our Sins

The child heroine who dies, a common trope in the 19th century, continues to fascinate us, appearing in “Bridge to Tarabithia” and “The Fault Is in Our Stars.” One of my students has this as a senior project topic.

Posted in Alcott (Louisa May), Bronte (Charlotte), Dickens (Charles), Paterson (Katherine), Poe (Edgar Allan), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Children Wrestling with Faith & Doubt

Alice Munro’s “Age of Faith” is a powerful portrait of how children turn to God–and also why they turn away.

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The Children’s Hour, Pros and Cons

Longfellow’s “Children’s Hour” may be overly sentimental but, as I played with my grandson, I found myself not caring.

Posted in Longfellow (Henry Wadsworth) | Also tagged , | 1 Comment

A Child’s Connection with the Dead

Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” captured my son’s sense of connection with his dead brother.

Posted in Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , | 3 Comments

When the World Is Puddle Wonderful

It was raining yesterday in Pittsburgh on the first day of spring, bringing to mind one of the great poems about the season.

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Lit Helps Father Support a Sick Child

Jason Blake found himself playing literary roles when his daughter underwent major surgery.

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My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold Grandchildren

My heart leapt up Wordsworth style when playing with my grandchildren these past two weekends.

Posted in Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , | 2 Comments

Parental Rule #1: Respect Your Child

“David Copperfield” enjoins us to respect the interiority of children.

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Haunting Music of the Other World

Anne Porter shows us how “the fresh truth of children” is central to the Christmas experience.

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A Golf Poem about Liberated Children

In protest against laboring children, Scott Bates imagines the letter “L” going on strike.

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Yeats and a Prayer for My Granddaughter

Yeats’s “Prayer for My Daughter” has questionable sexual politics but points to deep truths.

Posted in Yeats (William Butler) | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment

To Esmé and Alban with Love (No Squalor)

With names from Salinger and Blake, my two new grandchildren have promising destinies.

Posted in Blake (William), Salinger (J. D.), Shakespeare (William), Sterne (Lawrence) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Stuart Little Rescues a Gay Boy

As an undersized gay child, humorist David Rakoff found a soul mate in Stuart Little.

Posted in White (E. B.) | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Step 1: Become Like Little Children

Spiritual Sunday We are currently in Staunton, Virginia with our friends Brent and Carter Douglass, having journeyed here to watch two Renaissance plays at the replica of the Elizabethan Blackfriars Theater.  I will have more to say about the plays later this week.  For the moment I share a wonderful poem that Carter has written […]

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An ABC of Children’s Books

As we enter the holiday season, you can expect a number of posts on children’s books.  I have mentioned several times how one of my father’s great joys when we were growing up was reading us the books he had loved as a child.  We got extra reading around the Christmas season.  Here’s a poem […]

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Read Your Kids Nonsense Poems

I taught Alice in Wonderland a couple of weeks ago and found myself thrown back to wonderful childhood memories of my father reading me Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poetry.  Authority figures in the book are always ordering Alice to recite instructional verse, like Issac Watts’ “Against Idleness and Mischief” or Robert Southey’s “The Old Man’s Comforts […]

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Imagination Unleashed: Children on Bikes

Sports Saturday I bicycle virtually everyday to the college where I work, about a mile and a quarter from home.  Unless it’s raining or snowing, motorists can see me pumping along, my pants tucked into my socks, my necktie blowing in the wind, my backpack weighed down with laptop, lunch, and the Longman Anthology of British […]

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The Church and the Chimney-Sweep’s Cry

In his August 29 Washington Mall speech, rightwing television commentator Glenn Beck attacked (among other things) the notion that Christianity should be concerned with issues of social justice. He accused Barack Obama and liberation theology of distorting Jesus’s message. For the President, Beck said, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, […]

Posted in Blake (William) | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Talking to Kids about Movies

Stand by Me (Rob Reiner, 1986)  Film Friday First, a quick prayer of thanksgiving: my father, who is responsible for my love of literature and film, underwent successful surgery on a blocked artery Tuesday. He had been experiencing sharp pains and a stent was installed. Such are the miracles of modern medicine that, by Thursday […]

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Rediscovering Wild Strawberries

My daughter-in-law’s recent blog post on children, discussed yesterday, has taken me back to a time when I myself wrestled with the question of whether we should bring children into an uncertain world.  A powerful work addressing this issue is Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, a magnificent film that feels like literature. The film is about a day […]

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On the Logic of Having Babies

In a recent post on her website, my wonderful daughter-in-law reflects on whether she and Darien will have children.  The reflection was occasioned by our Iowa Thanksgiving where she saw all of her husband’s cousins having children (and I mean all, the only exceptions being those who are in college or younger).  So Betsy compiles […]

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Moral Verse for Bad Little Children

When I was a child, I was a great fan of the tongue-in-cheek “cautionary verses” of English poet Hilaire Belloc.  I have written in the past about how, in the Alice books, Lewis Carroll took off after those heavy-handed Victorian moralists who tried to scare children into good behavior.  Belloc did more of the same, […]

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Honoring Our Inner Wild Rumpus

Illustration from Where the Wild Things Are I see that Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1963) has been turned into a film, which has led Slate columnist Jack Shafer to revisit a controversy about the book. Apparently Sendak still can’t let go of a critique by psychologist Bruno Bettelheim. I was surprised to learn […]

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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