Jennifer Armstrong





Jennifer Armstrong

Author profile


born
May 19, 1961

gender
female

website


About this author

Jennifer Armstrong learned to read and write in Switzerland, in a small school for English speaking children on the shores of Lake Zurich. The school library had no librarian and no catalog – just shelves of interesting books. She selected books on her own, read what she could, and made up the rest. It was perfect. As a result, she made her career choice – to become an author – in first grade. When she and her family returned to the U.S. she discovered that not all children wrote stories and read books, and that not all teachers thought reading real books was important. Nevertheless, she was undaunted. Within a year of leaving college she was a free-lance ghost writer for a popular juvenile book series, and before long published her first t ...more


Average rating: 3.87 · 4,838 ratings · 1,064 reviews · 69 distinct works · Similar authors
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Pockets
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The American Story: 100 Tru...
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Magnus at the Fire
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More books by Jennifer Armstrong…
The Kindling The Keepers of the Flame The Kiln
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“For you can't hear Irish tunes without knowing you're Irish, and wanting to pound that fact into the floor.”
Jennifer Armstrong, Becoming Mary Mehan

“Stories make us who we are. I spent hours and hours of my childhood on two occupations: making up stories to act out outdoors, and reading stories indoors. What I read, besides chapter books, were treasuries of folktales, legends, myths and fables. Aladdin, Odysseus, Till Eulenspiegel, Robin Hood, the pantheons and heroes of Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, India, Persia, Egypt, Japan, China – these hero stories were all very much alive to me. I was never bothered by sexism – the hero’s journey is archetypal – and it never occurred to me that being a girl limited my participation in the journey. Sometimes physical prowess was key, but not always. Odysseus triumphed by his wits, after all, and Scheherezade saved her own life by being a good story-teller.

What counts, I believe, is that I spent hour upon hour with undaunted characters who persevered, who vanquished evil, who faced natural and supernatural challenges, who made sacrifices to a greater good. They were my models for every kind of courage. Some were more domesticated victories which featured female characters, whose courage was more often emotional or spiritual. If they revealed the face of moral courage more often than physical courage it was no less courageous because of it. And anyway, there were plenty of active heroines with no shortage of physical courage. The passive Sleeping Beauties and Snow Whites were like Barbies to me -- mildly interesting to play with for a bit, but soon set aside for more dynamic characters.

These traditional stories were powerful for a reason. They were traditional for a reason. They had been preserved for centuries for a reason. There is real meat on those bones, and they nourished my developing self to a very significant degree. For centuries, people told these stories -- not just to their children but to everyone. In this way they transmitted their culture and their customs and their values from generation to generation, teaching them to children, reinforcing them for themselves. Those cultures, customs and values varied from country to country, continent to continent. But what did not vary was the role the stories played. The stories taught children and reminded adults how to be an adult: how to do hard things, how to face challenges – not without fear, but in spite of it. The stories taught all six types of courage.”
Jennifer Armstrong

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