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Touch Magic... Pass it On: Jane Yolen Stories

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  390 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Our children are growing up without their birthright: the myths, fairy tales, fantasies and folklore that are their proper legacy.
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Kind Crone Productions (first published 1981)
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Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trevor by: Abigail A.
Just what is the point of stories? Why do we let them take up such a large part of our lives? How is it that we never seem to grow out of them?

We are all likely to meet people who will tell us that, in fact, they do not really like stories at all. I’ve found this is often the reason people give for not reading – they are not interested in stories. But, almost invariably, these same people will watch detective shows on television or Doctor Who or Star Trek or any one of thousands of other televis
Sherwood Smith
Every few years I take this book out and reread it. Yolen writes with deceptive simplicity and clarity that one doesn't realize how profoundly true her words are until they keep coming back in memory.

From this book comes a (deservedly) repeated quotation, which I reproduce here, as I use it frequently to give the short answer why I can't read game of Thrones, well-written as it is:

And for adults, the world of fantasy books returns to us the great words of power which, in order to be tamed, we ha
For some reason, I feel a desire to call for people with pitchforks and torches so we can go attack Parent Groups.

I did not know that Yolen's Briar Rose had been burned. I knew it was on a list of banned and challenged books, but I hadn't known that someone had threw it on the fire.


The problem with people today (okay, one problem with people today, besides the fact that they are people) is that they don't read. They really don't. Everyone on this website is a bloody expection.

What is wors
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Abigail
This book blew me away. It's a collection of essays about fantasy and humanity and storytelling. It's also exquisitely written, and it reinforces prejudices I didn't even realize I had. Any number of times in this book, Yolen explicated something which immediately resonated with me as something I believe at some unexamined level, the deep heart's core, if you will. She also draws some lines which are blindingly obvious once they've been drawn- for instance any of you who know me know that I reve ...more
Christy Whitsell
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-my-reads
Some of these essays were amazing and some were not. Yolen believes in the power of story, metaphor, and especially fairy tales. She is more open to psychological interpretation than I. It was an intriguing read after learning so much about fantasy and fairy tales from The Literary Life Podcast.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is for books like this that the ancients invented paper.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone Interested in Children's Literature and/or Folklore
A collection of brief essays addressing the importance of folklore and enchantment in juvenile literature, from the pen of prolific children's author and editor Jane Yolen, Touch Magic was initially published in 1981, and rewritten in 2000. Presenting sixteen essays that touch on everything from the centrality of myth in helping children to organize and understand reality, to the importance of language itself in making us human, Yolen's work takes up the cause of defending folk and fairy tales a ...more
Becca Harris
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was simply fantastic!!! I have had it sitting on my shelf unread for too, too long. I highlighted so many passages while reading these essays on the importance of holding onto the fairy tales for the sake of our children and society. I will have to reread it and take more notes (I just highlighted this read through). In the beginning Yolen tells the reader, "To do without tales and stories and books is to lose humanity's past, is to have no star map for our future." She explains more t ...more
Katherine Sas
I feel like my subconscious is guiding me to the perfect reading order for these books on fairy tales. I'm really getting a sense of dialogue and debate between the different authors and academics, but the controversy is increasing my appreciation of the genre, not diminishing it.

One reaction: This is exactly the kind of book Ruth Bottigheimer (author of Fairy Tales: A New History) would hate. It's all about fairy tales as part of our Jungian unconscious, our cultural and spiritual heritage. It
Deborah O'Carroll
Struggling between a 2 and 3 star rating... But I'm currently going with 2.5 as an "overall okay; loved parts; other parts not so much".

As a collection of essays, there were several I enjoyed immensely (and some awesome quotes that I'm going to have to type up sometime) but also some essays that I just didn't enjoy.

It had some wonderful points, was elegantly written, and had some great truths, plus I was pulled into reading it in one afternoon when I only meant to start it.

I ought to have lov
Angela Boord
I read this book in about an hour and a half, but what it had to say about the importance of unsanitized, unsentimentalized fairy tales in the lives especially of children but also of the adults those children grow into, was profound. Yolen makes the case that all those old stories with all their magic and violence are necessary to children because through them they learn about good and evil, courage, honor, justice, choice and consequence, responsibility, and what it is to be human in a way tha ...more
A series of essays that offer an intriguing look at the role folklore and fairy tales play in children's development. Jane Yolen is an amazing person and an amazing scholar--and although I came away liking this small book, I felt terribly guilty for not providing the rich experiences she did for her kids, for my kids. Kind of like reading about the life of Tasha Tudor and the astonishing things she did for her children. ...more
David Macpherson
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very smart, intelligent, collection of essays about the power of fantasy and folk lore. It is written by Jane Yolen, so of course, it is smart and intelligent. Her thoughts on the use of time travel in children's stories was eye opening. And this is the second book I read this year that talked crap about Roald Dahl. I love it. I want more books that talk shit about Roald Dahl, I love his work, but everything I hear about him makes me happy to never have met in person. ...more
Chris Borkent
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice set of essays on the importance, evolution, and role in society, of fairytales. A pleasant and thought provoking read.
So much to think about in this slim volume of essays. I will be revisiting it for sure.
Educating Drew
"So the fantasy book, like the fairy tale, may not be Life Actual but it is Life In Truth." (55)

Touch Magic is a collection of essays written by the brilliant and prolific children's author, Jane Yolen. Each essay shares her expertise of the fantasy genre. She engulfs her readers in rich knowledge and I found myself devouring this book. It was checked out from the library (woe is me, as my copy would have been marked and highlighted) so I spent countless hours copy quotes verbatum in my lil' mol
Melody Schwarting
A lovely exploration of fantastical children's literature. Yolen's arguments feel a bit dated at times, but there is much goodness here.

I'd love to hear her take on Harry Potter. First published in 1981 and re-published in 2000, Touch Magic doesn't cover the biggest phenomenon in children's literature since the Grimm brothers. I think this gap is why Yolen's perspective seemed dated, why her gloomy proclamations about the state of children's minds under Disney seemed to overstate the case. Harry
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved Jane Yolen's work before I found this slim volume of essays. Briar Rose, her masterful retelling of Sleeping Beauy as a Holocaust tale, is one of my favorite books of all time, and one I've recommended to pretty much everyone who will talk about books with me.

In her essays, Yolen lays out the many ways that fantasy literature is developmentally crucial to children, our sense of history, and society as a whole. She goes on to emphasize the importance of the dark versions as well. She call
I'd forgotten I'd already read this. When I went to list it here, I saw the previous review. Oh well. It's hardly a difficulty to reread books I like.

"Stories lean on stories, art on art. This familiarity with the treasure- house of ancient story is necessary for any true appreciation of today's literature. A child who has never met Merlin-- how can he or she really recognize the wizards in Earthsea? The child who has never heard of Arthur -- how can he or she totally
appreciate Susan Cooper's T
Marilyn Hudson
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and thoughtful book that is perfect for students of children's literature, parents, authors, and storytellers! I recommend this as a perfect text book or reading title for literature, writing, folklore and parenting courses.

The powerful role of fantasy and the imagination in a child's coming to grips with the reality of life is a message worth repeating. Yolen shares episodes of her own parenting to illustrate many key elements, provides deeply thoughtful comments for reflection and in
Janice  Durante
Prolific writer Jane Yolen is a passionate proponent of the role of traditional folk and fairy tales in the lives of children. In Touch Magic, she warns “Our children are growing up without their birthright: the myths, fairy tales, fantasies and folklore that are their proper legacy. It is a serious loss.”
If you consider the important work myths and folk literature perform, you get a sense of what many young people today are missing. Traditional tales perform four crucial functions, Yolen argues
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Touch Magic presents a compelling argument for the inclusion of fairy tales and fantasy stories in childhood entertainment and education— and in adult entertainment and education as well. Over the course of sixteen brief essays on subjects ranging from Venetian masquerades to banned books and book burnings, Jane Yolen argues that humans engage with the world and find meaning in experiences through metaphor, myth, symbolism, and archetype: never more so than when we are young.

Yolen's humor in th
Growing up, Jane Yolen was a perennial favorite author of mine. Owl Moon, Greyling, The Devil's Arithmetic, Briar Rose, the Books of Great Alta, and her myriad short fantasy and sci-fi stories were among the many, many books I've read and loved in my life. Having read Touch Magic, it's easy to see why: she has a consummate understanding of what makes a good, resonant story for children. I already feel like I might have to read this again; in keeping with her emphasis on the importance of metapho ...more
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic-genre
A collection of essays on folk/fairy tales and fantasy stories told to children, written by the absolute authority on such matters. I don't necessarily agree with all of her conclusions (imho the chapter on feral children is skippable) but I highly recommend this to anyone considering writing for children. The chapter on time travel narratives was particularly illuminating and brought up points I had not considered but in retrospect seem obvious. There is a section that sticks with me where Yole ...more
Rachel Schmoyer
I'm sure this book deserves more stars than three, but I am just not smart enough for this book. So many fantasy and fairy tales were referenced that I have no idea about.

It did give me a fair amount to ponder. I was wondering if it would convince me that I need to read fantasy since (besides Harry Potter and Narnia) I'm not a fan. I just can't do pretend worlds as much as authors would like me to. I didn't leave the book convinced that I need more fantasy in my reading life.

I did appreciate t
Apr 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I was a literal child. And teenager and young adult. I didn't "get" why symbolism and metaphor was a big deal. Say it how it is, isn't that the best way? In my 30's, I've begun to appreciate myth and symbol and type and shadow. I used to think it was all bunk.

This book is basically a treatise on how lost civilization would be without the stories that perpetuate metaphor and teach without teaching. I don't know if we'd be as low as the animals. But most all prophets and leaders, Christ most prom
Lisa Blouch
A wonderful collection of essays by a fantasy writer who knows her folklore. I've read bits and pieces of this book for years but, a couple of days ago, I decided to read the book in its entirety from beginning to end. Turns out my bits and pieces reading meant that I'd already read all of the essays, but re-reading them this way was terrific. The essays really make one think about all of those parents (and they are the majority) who don't think or are somehow unable to share folk literature wit ...more
Dec 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book longish ago, before I had any association with anyone who had any association with Jane Yolen, so my continual return to it as a source of information and inspiration about how myth and magic inform what we think and how we feel about being in the world, raising children in the world, and the possibility of truths larger than our lives in the world is unlikely to be prejudicial. That said, this is a wonderful book, and if you care anything about magic, myth,monsters,folklore,fant ...more
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the world of Faerie and Myth and Folklore, which I've come to love, I enjoyed Yolen's exploration of some of the questions parents/teachers/storytellers might have like, "Why story?" "Which story?" "What about that dark stuff in the stories?" I really learned a lot from the section on variously told Little Red Riding Hood stories, and on the ways in which Cinderella, for example, reflects the cultural values of the versions we have received. As a storyteller, I found the book thought-provokin ...more
Adam Ross
Solid book on the importance of fairy tales for kids. Some great stuff in there. Also some silly, PC stuff. She complains about how fairy tales supposedly demonize ogres just because they're ogres. To her this represents the oppression of the "other," whoever that might be. Okay, maybe. But aren't we missing the point a little? Ogres eat children (Shrek being the obvious exception). Does Yolen, a Jew, want us to give big, sloppy, inclusive hugs to Nazis? Didn't think so. Ultimately, a solid book ...more
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Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachuset ...more

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