These volumes renewed British interest in fairy stories; they were also unique in that they were specifically edited and marketed for children, and many of our ideas about fairy tales being the special province of the young can be traced back to their popularity. Especially concerned with the readability of the texts, Leonora Lang attempted to limit the vocabulary and sentence structure so that the collections were accessible to children with average reading abilities. They were also made more appealing with numerous black and white and color illustrations by H.J. Ford.
This essay from The New Yorker provides an intriguing overview of some of the ways critics have both interpreted fairy tales and suggested the role they play in the human culture and psyche. The names mentioned here could be starting places for more reading or research.
Upon his return from space an astronaut having looked back down or up at us saying he saw no disease, no wars, no cars, that it was beautiful! One of us, one of ours not particularly rueful about finding neither Heaven nor Hell, seeing no Christian or other people's planets dangling around like vast Christmas tree balls. Though he did miss seeing you and me roasting on the beach while knowing we were there and wishing us well. Beatifully alive on that blessed, self-contained, brave, blue heavenly body circling an amazing mass of light and warmth when seen up close, but a humiliating dot when spotted from as little as 100 million miles removed! Is this therefore not the moment to accept the magnificence of life on its own unique terms for perhaps only the second time; first so innocently, in the very, very beginning, and again only of late? Without the intervening interference of sanctimony, of artificial despair, silly threats of damnation, the torments of a sulfurous hell, the fire, the brimstone of it, the deliberate perdition of it, places where even seraphs fear to tread? Without the feeble crutch of tailor-made eternity or sainthood and all its supporting drama, dogma and rites, all those handmaids of worship without feeling that for us, here, there's no grand role left to play, that we have lost our meaning, as if we ever really had one or for that matter really need one!? Not as übermensch, superman, but simply as man. Man whose only greatness lies in his courage to face and manage, if not completely influence his own destiny and no longer in need of fictitious heroes? For haven't we put far too much capital in the search of ulterior 'meaning' without which, it has been suggested, we cannot live? When what's important in a human life is finding any sort of daily purpose followed by a sense of accomplishment, a lack of which is the only thing that truly annihilates us. And even in the unlikely event that there exists some higher organised power some place up there, must we really think in terms of it revealing itself through sainted comic-strips given the abject cruelty it constantly displays, never its love? And still get courted by us with naive worship, that ignoble form of begging on knees when normally we're guilty of nothing? Prayer as it's called, but really only exposing gratuitous despair? All the while singing deadly mainly White songs of Praise which ultimately and always point towards man himself? And which if I were He, would not only bore me stiff, but really piss me off? Te Deum tedium... as it ought to be called! Just like all that Gregeorian also mainly White and Priestly Chant, deprived of all the genuine, the explosive joy of Black American Gospel singing and something nobody should ever take away from these folks. Letting them be, letting them be, even when tending to admire the expression but not the substance of all this passion. In my case a personal Hosanna in theatrical and musical fairy tales never involving the King of Glory as much as... the Lion King perhaps!
The fairy-tale section is even worse, and how dreary the inclusion of the word'Folklore' in a catalogue intended for the use of children. Certainly, the erudite personwho made this selection never reads fairy stories for amusement. The pseudo-scientificflavour of 'folklore' has intrigued him sadly, else why include Kingsley's 'Greek Heroes'under 'Fairy Tales,' why entirely exclude Thackeray's 'The Rose and the Ring' and GeorgeMacdonald's 'Princess and the Goblin' and 'Princess and Curdie,' these last both betterbooks than 'At the Back of the North Wind,' by the same author, which has been allowed?What is the matter with 'Through the Looking-Glass, since 'Alice in Wonderland' is here,and here without the asterisk which tells the child that the library contains other booksby the same author. Think of growing up conversant with only half of Alice! Where are thedelightful fairy tales of Mrs. Molesworth? where are those of Perrault, of Lord Brabourne?and why are Andrew Lang's long series of coloured fairy books represented by only one, andagain with no asterisk? Poor little children, at the mercy of such elders as thiscompiling gentleman!
Allow me to add, here, now, today, and in conclusion that there are a handful of myths and faerie or fairy tales from which we needn't escape, from which we needn't be set free. We don't have to deprive ourselves altogether of our fantasies. We only need to carefully remember how perverted political and religious so-called romanticism endorsed wasted living, accounting for much abject cruelty, ignominiously producing millions of dead; belief systems and doctrines still thriving in too many places out there. These other fables the happy exception: bereft of the inherent intellectual dishonesty of all the rest. Differing from your run-of-the-mill, multi-striped scribbling and scripture in that they attempt to unmask ostensibly benign falsehoods, near hypnotic and addictive to so many, while neither creating nor perpetuating them. Alice in Wonderland's adventures from the other side of the mirror in Through the Looking-Glass coming to mind (contrariwise, continued Tweedleedee, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's the logic.) or else The Emperor's New Clothes, without forgetting Orwell's farm of course. And what about toothless Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh, isn't he absitively, posolutely honester than most of us will ever be? With one superb quote remaining to end this brief exposé and somewhat personal tour d'horizon, not intended to offend, but to help set free the slaves, even though in their bewilderment and as a primitive response these'll often savagely attack anyone making this attempt. How bizarre, slaves rising to remain slaves, but it happens moreoften than not. And how utterly tragic, rabid believers pining for the death of death, turning to murder to obtain it!
But even if the lessons themselves were not in the least alluring, this sameimagination wag stimulated by the best of all methods, by the good old-fashioned fairystory; either told by some old nurse, or read out of enchanting books with innumerablequaint woodcuts, so that forever after the names of certain tales were inseparably boundup with the woodcuts in question, and to name the one was to see the other. There was nomoral hidden away in these stories, except the wholesome one that the good alwaystriumphed in the end; their aim was to amuse, to charm, and even sometimes to terrify, tobeguile the child along the paths of unreality into the great and beautiful world ofromance. Romance is a grasp of the ideal, an endeavour to express by symbols the greattruths of life. Wedded to rhythm, it becomes poetry. It is the striving of the soul afterthe unattainable. And into this rich world the little child entered through the portals ofthe fairy story, as thousands of years before the nations in their childhood had entered;as the Nibelungen Lied, the Norse sagas, and the myths of every land are here to testify.
So that it is just as derisory for the gullible to claim all is well, that we're needed and looked after purely on the basis of fairy tales, as it is an extreme form of arrogance to shut all doors to mystery, suggesting we already know everything there is to know. And none of which goes to say that centuries of mainly self-stroking musings have been a complete waste, far from it. They were extremely useful in making ethics systemic and having us understand the structures and mechanics of language and thought, never mind the hundreds of immature conclusions which in this process were arrived upon: it was all part of our moral teething, of our growing up. Works, even though radiant, considering the primitive times in which they were conceived, never to be taken as an end onto themselves. As in the case of Spinoza's dozen or so formulae first 'proving' there is a single creator and telling us that God is everything, then concluding in his Ethica that on the contrary, everything is God and thereby to all intents and purposes becoming a free-spirited naturalist atheist, nobly turning his back on constructed belief, on constructed meaning, and in this respect pre-dating Kierkegaard and his 'accompanied' existentialism by a couple of centuries. 'Accompanied' because of the continued attempt by magnificent but gutless fence sitters to have their cake and eat it, too! Unwilling to let go of religion's convenient but false comfort...
American History (5 day Fluency Reading Lesson Plans)
Day: MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY, and FRIDAY
Grade/Class/Subject: 5th Grade / (Teacher) / Reading
Unit/Theme: American History
Standards: 5th Grade
English Department: Reading
The following are the standards upon which these lesson plans are based on as defined in the State of Arizona.
LA5.1A Students to use the reading process to integrate several comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading.
LA5.1A.1 Students use knowledge of synonyms, antonyms to develop fluency.
LA5.1A.2 Students comprehend grade-level-appropriate technical & subject-specific vocabulary to help build fluency.
LA5.1A.3 Students show understanding by retelling, summarizing, and paraphrasing central idea and accompanying details in the grade-level-appropriate reading text.
LA5.1A.4 Students make inferences, conclusions, or generalizations on text then back them with textual evidence & prior knowledge.
LA5.1A.5 Students comprehend cause and effect relationships.
LA5.1A.6 Students use such means as setting a purpose for reading & graphic organizers to make predictions, categorization, and analysis.
LA5.1B Students show comprehension of several literary texts.
LA5.1B.1 Students link characters, character traits, setting, & plot.
LA5.1B.2 Students identify with the text.
LA5.1B.3 Students identify descriptive language & imagery.
LA5.1B.4 Students read several literary genres e.g. poetry, fairy tales, fiction, historical fiction, fables, drama, folk tales, narratives from different cultures, myths, folk and legends).
LA5.1C Students show comprehension of informational text.
In a list of the books for boys and girls in a large public library near Boston,the subjects are divided under headings. 'Poetry' takes up only a part of one page out ofa catalogue of twenty-nine pages; 'Fairy Tales and Folk-Lore' have another page, while onepage and a half is devoted to 'Inventions and Occupations' and one page to 'Outdoor Life.'Of course some of the books that come under other headings, such as 'Famous Old Stories'and 'Other Countries,' axe really good literature, but appallingly few. Leaving out thosesections devoted to 'Younger Readers' and 'For Older Boys and Girls,' that is, taking themiddle section which is especially adapted for children of the grammar-school age, I find,out of a total of four hundred and seven books, the only ones which could be consideredgood literature are Aldrich's 'Story of a Bad Boy,' Defoe's 'Robinson Crusoe,' Hughes's'Tom Brown's -'School Days,' Stevenson's 'Treasure Island,' Mark Twain's 'The Prince andthe Pauper,' Mary Mapes Dodge's 'Hans Brinker,' Kipling's' Jungle Book,' Bunyan's'Pilgrim's Progress,' 'Don Quixote,' Hawthorne's 'Wonder Book," Tanglewood Tales,'and 'Grandfather's Chair,' ' The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey,' Irving's 'Rip Van Winkle' and'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,' Malory's 'King Arthur,' Shakespeare (the Ben GreetEdition), 'Gulliver's Travels,' and Marryat's 'Masterman Ready' and 'Children of the NewForest.'
That's right, little girl, there is absolutely nothing wrong with home: our here and our now. Human existence not needing to be fraught with feelings of fear or a colossal sense of vacuity once official fairy tales have been exposed for what they are. Simply put, we must cut out the crap for even if we're not particularly significant, we're NOT worthless. And at the risk of sounding like Peter Sellers as Chauncey the dim-witted gardener in Being There, I truly think it's what Voltaire meant a couple or more centuries ago when he closed Candide with the ambivalent Il faut cultiver notre jardin, urging us to cultivate our delicious earthly garden, retrieve lost dignity and move on to live authentically. Never missing a beat, a notion to which before him Epicurus and Montaigne though outsiders certainly were no strangers, both moralists of the first order to whom existential pleasure remained essential. Lusty moralists they, not puritanical sybarites and already aware that we often observe and think from within a too self-assured, partially self-constructed, partially delivered comfort zone, with few guessing what can happen to our house-of-cards moral balancing act, capable of the overnight crashing into horrendous ugliness. And that what we like to think of as free will, in fact the response to so much by itself pernicious feedback. So that overseeing this with much humility is the only key to successful continuation. Not fanciful escape, the attempt at spiritual emigration to timeless places nowhere to be found, elbowing to get in.