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Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child
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Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  454 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Esolen shows how imagination is snuffed out at practically every turn, and then he confronts contemporary trends in parenting and schooling by reclaiming lost traditions. This practical, insightful book is essential reading for any parent.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 5th 2010 by Intercollegiate Studies Institute
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I tend to enjoy most books I read (easily entertained, I guess), but don't let my low book standards detract from my statement that this is one of the best books I've ever read. While it appears to be a book on child-raising (and sort of is), I'd recommend it to anyone, parent or not. The author is clearly brilliant, but he's also hilarious. Several times throughout the book he'd make a joke (in a very intellectual and sarcastic manner) and I'd have to read it again just to convince myself -- di ...more
This book made me understand better how most of my own imagination was destroyed. I think I can get some of it back, and look forward to exploring the world a lot more. The only problem is that I'm now an "adult," when I should have been a man by now. That can be fixed, too.

There are two main reasons to read this book. The first is as I have already indicated; you can see where the locusts have devoured in your own life, and work to replace those years. The second is for the sake of your own ch
Becky Pliego

This is not a book only for parents. This is a book for those who love to read, to write, to imagine, for those who still believe in fairies and dragons. It is for those who love to think and soar at the same time. It is a book for those who know that we are living in God's story.

I absolutely loved parts of this book and other parts I was not so sure about.

The funny thing is, my wife checked this book out of the library thinking it was a parenting book. She expected a series of ten things to avoid, for they would destroy your child's imagination. It is not that sort of book at all. Instead, it is a snarky critique of the ways contemporary culture already works to destroy the imagination of children. That said, there are lessons in here for parents.

Much of what Esolen say
M.G. Bianco
I read this book a couple of months ago, just getting around to writing the review. But do NOT take this as an indication that the book was not satisfactory.

This is my favorite book of 2011 thus far. I do not expect it to be overtaken, although it is a possibility.

Esolen writes with wit, humor, and great insight. Reading this book reminded me of reading The Screwtape Letters. Esolen writes as if you want to destroy the imagination of your child. This makes him funny and insightful.

I hadn't gott
When I got to the chapter on "Never Leave Children to Themselves", I almost stopped reading this book. The author's description of the 'lifeskills' involved in something as simple as a pickup game of baseball, and the reminder that such things have been replaced by adult-organized soccer leagues, broke my heart. I don't think of myself as a young pioneer, but I have many fond memories of playing outside with neighborhood kids, left to our own devices and imaginations. Yet my children's lives loo ...more
By the translator of the Divine Comedy, this is a tremendous attack on the erosion and dismantling of the imagaination of our children. Here are the ten ways:

1. Keep your children in doors as much as possible;
2. Never leave children to themselves;
3. Replace the fairy tale with political cliches and fads;
4. Keep children away from machines and machinists;
5. Cast aspersions upon the heroic and the patriotic;
6. Cut all heroes down to size;
7. Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex;
8. Level di
"For in that deep quiet of the heat we hear things. We hear that the world as we know it is passing away. We are passing away. Yet the world is beautiful, and good is no illusion. Evil is the illusion; it is weak, a shadow, a parody of good, a specter."

This is one of the most glorious things I've ever read.
Margaret Mary
I first saw this book in the ISI site’s bookstore and was pleased to find it at the public library (inter-library loan). I’d highly recommend it to anyone with children and wish I’d read it earlier in my home schooling career. There are definitely some things I’d consider doing differently based on the opinions given here. I may buy a copy so I can reread it periodically.

There are many quotable passages, but this one, in a chapter entitled Cast Aspersions upon the Heroic and Patriotic, finally m
Leila Bowers
If you have studied anything by Tolkien or Lewis, to name a few, or the model and method of Classical Education, or the Bible, or spent two minutes analyzing the decline of our society, there will be nothing new in this book. That said, it's still a delightful read, and the author's ability to draw evidence from the Greeks to Dante to stickball is compelling and convincing. His historical scope is deep, his writing clear and forceful, and his cynicism sharp and often eye-opening. I only wonder i ...more
Amanda Avery
Too bad he mucks up some essentially good (common sense) ideas with myopic religious conservative claptrap topped with a sour cherry of relentless, grating, condescension. So it goes. Admittedly, I should have known better. See also, his "Defending Marriage: 12 Arguments for Sanity" for example. Instead of stopping at "12 Arguments" (fine) the "...for Sanity" part belies his rigidity, arrogance and reliance on scathing sarcasm to belittle any dissention to his worldview--guaranteeing that only t ...more
Maybe this book objectively deserves more than two stars. But two stars is how I feel about it. Modernity is all bad; good old days were all good. Blah blah blah.
In Ten Ways, Anthony Esolen presents in delightfully witty and satirical prose a surefire recipe for stunting a child’s innate wonder and imagination. Of course, Esolen intends to encourage exactly the opposite, but he uses this conceit as a clever and effective arrow to skewer his true target: the ideas, practices and institutions pervading American society that hinder the effective fostering and nurturing of children’s imaginative capacities. In Esolen’s crosshairs is the dull-minded impositio ...more
This book is written in the spirit of C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters, though the disguise is thinner. One can often hear the real voice of the author lamenting the non-life of the non-man of modernity.

He presents nine methods for stifling imagination:

1. Keep Your Children Indoors as Much as Possible
2. Never Leave a Child to Themselves
3. Keep Children Away from Machines and Machinists
4. Replace the Fairy Tale with Political Cliches and Fads
5. Cast Aspersions upon the Heroic and Patriotic
6. Cut Al
Lara Lleverino
Nov 13, 2013 Lara Lleverino is currently reading it
Still not quite finished with this book but my enthusiasm is definitely lagging. The books started off saying with biting succinctness what we are already know as the failure of education and child rearing, the poison of our plush society and the fear we all live under that keeps our kids and ourselves for experiencing life so that the dangers of society don't hurt us. However as I read on the satirical tone made me more and more realize this author is preaching to the choir and it began to feel ...more
Esolen is a favorite author of mine, and while I did enjoy this book, I think it misses the mark: not in content, but in form. His Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of your Child is written in the style of the Screwtape, a conceit that is perhaps designed to justify the periodically sarcastic tone of Esolen's thoughts on the subject of the formation of children's minds. Not that such sarcasm is unjustified--certainly not; so much of what he points out as laughably inadequate to the task of ini ...more
This book is indeed about ten ways to destroy the imagination of a child, but is done is a very tongue and cheek way. He basically shows what is desirable, what will foster imagination, in a child, and then why we must not have that, and what we must do instead.

I am torn between three and four stars for the book, because while I generally agree with what he is saying, he lost me many times. I felt dumb sometimes, because I am not an English lit professor like he is. I've never read Dante, or Vi
Although he makes salient points, Esolen's satirical conceit quickly wears thin.

His frequent references to great works and ideas are not synthesized into new conclusions, but read merely as self aggrandizing.

It didn't help my opinion of the book that I picked up Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" immediately afterward. Where Esolen can only preach to the choir, Chesterton is more than capable of changing minds.

For reference, chapter titles:
1) Why truth is your enemy, and the benefits of the vague
2) Ne
There are some incredibly articulate and intelligent reviews out of this book, so I won't even pretend to try to critique it. What I will say is it moved me, angered me, reduced me to tears, and had me shouting AMEN. There have been few books that have elicited such a range of emotion in me, especially works of non-fiction. Esolen's work is a clarion call for the return of childhood and freedom to children. But it is so much more complex than this -- it is a plea to remember what makes us HUMAN ...more
I didn't always agree with his points, but every one was thought provoking. The work was obviously heavily influenced by Lewis's "Abolition of Man" ("Screwtape Letters", too, but that's 2x4 over the head obvious if you even read 3 lines); I think he even quotes it once or twice. I wish Esolen had spent more than a paragraph or two on girls, but I can't blame him too much given the amount of personal memoir included. He was not a girl and clearly had limited contact with the fairer half of the sp ...more
Esolen reveals how wonder and awe can still be had, and can still work their magic even in this jaded and hurting world. 5 stars, 6 if I could. I see a few reviews that Esolen glorifies the past or that the "Screwtape" perspective is annoying or distracting. I will try to address these points, because though I can see where they are coming from, I also see them as integral elements of his message.

Esolen's theme is that imagination is what is needed to have eyes to see and ears to hear that God i
Leona Renee
"Fortunately, the attentive parent will be aided in this enterprise by what is called 'popular culture.' It isn't really culture, but mass entertainment; but that's another matter. Watch a half hour of television, and count how many times what is supposed to be humorous is based upon flattening or a reduction. Is someone not humbled but humiliated - and just for our enjoyment of the humiliation? Is the jest merely a snide wisecrack, and not really funny unless you adopt the snideness of the jest ...more
Bryn Dunham
Simply an excellent book using satire to criticize contemporary educational and child rearing norms that are destroying and stagnating a child's potential to possess the values of our elders. Best book I've read in a long time. A must read!
A book for any thinking parent to read. Educators too. And college students. And people who value imagination. And people who breathe, and anybody else I left out of those lists...
This is great. I love Esolen's style of writing as well as the insight he provides regarding our dealings with our children. More people need to read this!
A three-course meal in an age of McPamphlets.
Kevin Rogers
Thought-provoking and witty.
Feb 18, 2015 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mike by: Chris Waldburger
This book is world-class and a must-read for all parents, educators, and probably humans, too. I wish I could summarise it somehow, but quite simply it will put into words how important it is that we are not only to be taught to think clearly, but we must also prevent ourselves (and others) from dulling our minds with endless nonsense that the world currently barrages us with.

As a child with a near perfect upbringing on half a hectare of land, with plenty of space for playing, exploring, buildi
Jan 29, 2015 John rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
Esolen is known as a translator of The Divine Comedy, and his classical pedigree shines through in this book that is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Here, Esolen writes sardonically, as one who desires to see humanity continue on the path of flattened, unimaginative, dull, witless, illiiterate, and in one of his favorite descriptions--sublingual.

He attacks all systems that bind the imagination of children--daycare centers, schools, structure-for-structure's sake, keeping children
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Anthony M. Esolen is a professor of English at Providence College, and noted translator of classic works, as well as a popular writer for magazines like the Claremont Review and Touchstone, of which he is a senior editor. He has translated Dante's Divine Comedy, Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, and Torquato Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. He also writes a column for the Inside Catholic website.

More about Anthony Esolen...
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization Ironies of Faith: The Laughter at the Heart of Christian Literature Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story Is God's Story Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity

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“Fairy tales and folk tales are for children and childlike people, not because they are little and inconsequential, but because they are as enormous as life itself.” 17 likes
“...friendship stands as a small affront to the total control of all things by mass entertainment and mass media and mass education and mass politics. For wherever such friendships persist, there persists the possibility of imaginative leaps that threaten the comfort of the banal. For you look at the friend and you remember the past, and treasure it. You love the friend, and suddenly you understand that this life of ours cannot fully be described by the motion of particulate matter in empty space. You see instantly that politics fades into unimportance, with all its noisy glamour and empty promises. You feel that others before you have known what it is to have the true friend, the one before whom you can, as Cicero put it, think out loud. You feel that, and it is like an earnest of eternity, of being grounded in a a love and beauty and goodness that is at the heart of all ages, and that transcends them all. Pals we may have, in the flatlands of contemporary life. Political allies, sure. Coworkers, aplenty. But not friends.” 7 likes
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