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Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination
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Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  169 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Guroian illuminates the complex ways in which fairy tales and fantasies educate the moral imagination from earliest childhood. Examining a wide range of stories - from Pinocchio and The Little Mermaid to Charlotte's Web, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Wind in the Willows, and the Narnia Chronicles - he argues that these tales capture the meaning of morality through vivid ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 28th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Feb 02, 2015 We love rated it really liked it
This was very good, albeit a VERY in-depth look at this subject. I had to read slowly and carefully to understand what the author was sharing. I REALLY appreciated his Christian worldview. I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on Pinocchio and Narnia specifically.
Jul 09, 2013 ladydusk rated it it was amazing

I really enjoyed this when I was reading it. I've been "in the middle of it" for far too long because it is a dense book (or maybe I'm a dense reader). He packs a lot into each sentence. So I would read some, carry it to a different room and let it set, then read some more, let it set, then read some more. I think it probably took me a year to get through it.

I've heard Guroian speak on CD both on The Mars Hill Audio Journal and CiRCE Annual Conference and found myself reading in his voice.
Nov 12, 2011 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated every page of this book. I understand that some people are deeply religious, and that is absolutely fine with me. But I do not appreciate it when people shove it in other's faces. Guroian is extremely presumptuous. He starts out the book basically telling parents/teachers what to read to their children to give them the right moral grounding. He will say that an author's work is clearly an allegory for jesus' life or the author deliberately wrote a scene the way he did because it is like ...more
Dec 30, 2008 Cindi rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent.

I read a lot of fairy tales as a child, though I'm really not sure what connection my adult self has to all that reading. I'd like to understand it more.

I had wondered about reading fairy tales to my kids with all that you hear about the anti-feminist ideas in them (i.e. the helpless princess who must act a certain way and then be saved by a prince). This book has changed the way that I look at fairy tales and has also widened my view of many stories. There is great spirit
Feb 13, 2013 Sharon rated it it was amazing
".....When we grow up we tend to think that repetition is a sign of deadness, "like a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe were personal it would vary, if the sun were alive it would dance." To the contrary, "variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. Whereas repetition, far from signifying monotony ...more
Jun 12, 2015 Katherine rated it liked it
An uneven one for me. I loved the Introduction, but some of the author's best loves in literature give me the super-creeps (I'm looking at you, Pinocchio!), thereby making it a little hard for me to fully track with him. The discussions of Narnia and George MacDonald's Irene were highlights.

Commonplace entry:
"There are real and very important differences between what we now call values and the virtues as they had traditionally been understood. Let me put it this way. A value is like a smoke ring
Jun 26, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it
This is a delightful little book that brings back memories in any adult who had the great benefit of growing up with fairy tales. Vigen Guroian makes a strong case for the important role fairy tales can play in developing a moral imagination in young children.

While I found myself mentally clucking that every reader can find their own desired interpretation in any work regardless of the author's intent, Guroian's insights and musings into the deeper meanings of each tale he examined made me look
Jan 23, 2012 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michelle by: Susan Wise Bauer
DS12 and I read this book together. Rather, I read it aloud to the both of us. It is not an easy read. We kept a dictionary handy and looking unknown words up became DS's job. He had already read many of the stories covered by Guroian. I was familiar with only a few. Guroian uncovered layers of meaning in the stories that a casual reader would likely miss but which added whole new shades of understanding. He also introduced us to wonderful stories we wouldn't have known about without having read ...more
I think this is one of the very most important books in the world for parents and teachers to read. Guroian explains why cultivating the moral imagination is vital for training children in virtue and illustrates the connection between literature and morality through his analysis of many classic children's stories and fairytales (in a rare and beautiful exercise of literary criticism on children's fiction).

Tending the Heart of Virtue is a personal, accessible blend of philosophy and practice, and
Abbey Gohren
Oct 18, 2013 Abbey Gohren rated it really liked it
Vigen Guroian argues forecfully for the essential role of good stories in building the "moral imagination" in a child. By absorbing the beauty and patterns of engaging, well-written fantasy tales, a reader or listener develops taste buds for the true, the beautiful, and the good. This is a much more complex understanding of moral education than simply teaching right and wrong through rules in the thinly-veiled guise of a narrative. Rather, these stories that he highlights (among them, Hans ...more
Nov 27, 2013 Kris rated it it was amazing
I saw the author speak in Dallas at a school of classical learning and bought the book. I used it as part of a book club and found it to be a a beautiful and impact full read. I home educate and this book served as one of many resources to encourage me. I also started reading fairy tales that he mentions on Librivox and was astounded at the depth of the stories, and was immediately saddened that most people will watch a "classic" on Disney, and never know the real story. I read The Little ...more
Jun 16, 2013 David rated it it was ok
Decent book. I'm sure it is great for a literature student. The analysis of the moral issues in classic children's books and how they were effectively communicated by the author was sound, but too far outside my interest. When the topics moved to stories that I had read or am familiar with, I was able to follow his line of thinking just fine, but was somewhat lost otherwise.

Basically, the book wasn't what I expected, so I was disappointed. But at least I got through it.
Dec 19, 2015 Benedict rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I grew up Catholic, and I think this book embodies the best of virtue-based theology: a slow, thoughtful attention to how souls grow and thrive. I found myself delighted and moved by the attention given to fairy tales. The lessons that Vigen Guroian draws out of it are certainly mature enough for any adult to benefit from, though! I recommend this quite a bit to anyone interested in literature or spirituality.
Apr 11, 2016 Laura rated it liked it
I found the introduction worthwhile and enlightening, but the rest of the book a slog. And at some point it occurred to me that if the classic stories are really such an effective means of teaching the virtues (which I believe they are), then it can not possibly require this many words to detail exactly how they accomplish the task.
Courtney Clark
Jan 07, 2015 Courtney Clark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: homeschooling, 2013, 2016
Read this for a book discussion :). I've spent a lot of time thinking about the importance of fairy tales, as well as wondering how to instill virtues in my children, and this book really summed it all up for me. It's religious in nature, so fair warning, but then again so am I. A good read as I spend a Spring and Summer delving into Lang's fairy tale collection with the boys.
Stephanie Sheaffer
Jul 05, 2014 Stephanie Sheaffer rated it liked it
I agree w/ the premise of this philosophy book - that fairy tales awaken and strengthen the "moral imagination" of children.

That said, the author spends a hefty amount of time retelling popular fairy tales and then rehashing them in detail. For those who are already familiar with the tales, turning the pages may seem slow and tedious.
I fully agree with the premise of this book: classic stories form the moral imagination. I had recently read a similar book, so there was some overlap for me, but it was a reminder of the beauty and educational power of these stories.
Nov 06, 2014 Tessa rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago, and it was a great influence and inspiration for me. Now I'm teaching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to eight-year-olds, and I just attended a workshop on teaching children's literature with Mr. Guroian himself.

Life is pretty great sometimes.
Melissa Rapp
Jan 14, 2013 Melissa Rapp rated it it was amazing
A thorough and thought-provoking analysis of fairy tales and the moral themes that course through their veins.
Apr 05, 2010 Shawn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The key to unlocking the imagination of our children's minds while instilling values into them is the reading great stories to them. This book tells you how it works and why this is true.
K.A. Tomasovich
Jul 07, 2016 K.A. Tomasovich rated it it was amazing
Excellent guide to building a moral imagination. Not just for parents. Should be required reading in every intro to ethics course in college.
Nov 15, 2013 Rachael rated it it was amazing
This was a fabulous book. I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about raising their children with fairy tales.
Jan 18, 2014 Michelle rated it liked it
good information, mostly interesting to read. but a lot of simply retelling classic stories with his interpretation of them. but some good ideas for teaching children fairy tales.
Kasia Boslaugh
Jun 18, 2016 Kasia Boslaugh rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book- a must read for parents! Very interesting.
Holly Fish
Holly Fish rated it liked it
Dec 31, 2014
Laurie Hulter
Laurie Hulter rated it liked it
Jun 03, 2013
Kate rated it really liked it
May 31, 2013
Amy rated it it was amazing
May 03, 2013
Liz rated it liked it
Oct 30, 2013
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Oct 03, 2016
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Vigen Guroian resides with his wife June Vranian in Culpeper, Virginia, where he mostly tends to his large perennial and vegetable gardens. June is an Interior Designer. Vigen and June have two children. Their son Rafi is 28 years of age, a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, and employed at Cox Newspapers in Washington D.C. Their daughter Victoria is 24 years old, a graduate of Washington and Lee ...more
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“Mere instruction in morality is not sufficient to nurture the virtues. It might even backfire, especially when the presentation is heavily exhortative and the pupil's will is coerced. Instead a compelling vision of the goodness of goodness itself needs to be presented in a way that is attractive and stirs the imagination.” 6 likes
“the best sources in the Western tradition have argued that morality is much more than, indeed qualitatively different from, the sum of the values that an essentially autonomous self chooses for itself. Classical, Jewish, and Christian sources, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, or Augustine, John Chrysostom, Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas, and John Calvin, insist that morality is neither plural nor subjective.” 1 likes
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