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Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  273 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
What is imagination, and why is it vital to childhood education? What role do great books play in shaping a child's perception of self, life, and even God?

In "Caught Up in a Story," Sarah Clarkson answers these vital questions, demonstrating how great books can be a parent's best ally in shaping a child to love what is beautiful, pursue what is good, and grasp what is tru
Kindle Edition, 139 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Storyformed Books
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K.M. Weiland
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was incredibly touched by this book. It filled me in a way I didn't even realize I was thirsty for until I read it. Although its ostensible purpose is to advocate for a "storyformed" childhood (and it does a fine job of that), this book is so much more.

It is a "reader's memoir," full of stories about meaningful books the author grew up with. It plunged me back into my own childhood and made me remember stories I hadn't even realized had shaped me so profoundly.

Even more than a walk down memo
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
When I was a child I cried my eyes dry when The Little Match Girl struck her last match to keep warm and found her grandmother. When The Little Mermaid turned into foam on the waves of the sea, I was moved to deep pity. It was so important to me that The Velveteen Rabbit not be burned with the garbage that even to this day I sleep with the rag doll my mama made me when I was two months old, just to be sure that she stays "real." I once stunned my mother by eagerly eating my green beans at dinner ...more
Kelsey Bryant
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Having grown up “storyformed,” I knew reading was powerful … but I didn’t fully realize how powerful until I read Caught Up in a Story. “Storyformed” is a word Ms. Clarkson appears to have coined (it’s the name of her website, too) that means that a person’s understanding of life has been formed by the great stories they have read. Fiction (and narrative biography), because it immerses you in another life, another world, can teach and transform you like no nonfiction and reference books can. Rea ...more
Jun 22, 2015 rated it liked it
A couple of days ago I read Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children by Sarah Clarkson. It's very short, but would make a good gift for young parents.

For decades one of my go-to baby shower gifts has been a selection of picture books and one or two classic books for older children (e.g., The Wizard of Oz, The Box Car Children, The Secret Garden, etc.) and - when I remember it - a copy of The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Sarah
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is so much more than a "book about books". It challenges us to really KNOW and LOOK FOR the beauty of God in the written drives home the importance of literature as an avenue for children, giving them concrete images of things like character, love, beauty, & valor for them to emulate! I was inspired and challenged about how I view God at times. This is a beautiful book!
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: home-education
I enjoyed reading the perspective of a homeschool graduate, telling tales of how her life was formed by stories. Overall the book was very encouraging--with excellent book recommendations strewn throughout.

There were two slight and minor drawbacks, however--although no fault of the author's. For one, the book is (of course) heavily swayed toward the feminine experience of growing up "storyformed." It left me yearning for Sarah's brother to pen a similar account. As a mother of all sons, I would
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book paints a beautiful picture of raising children who are "story-formed," which means giving them a solid foundation in truth, beauty, and goodness through story so that they are inspired to hope, to persevere through hardship, and to lead heroic lives. This book blew up my "want to read" list, both for myself and with my children, and offers such a beautiful and practical way of equipping our children to face the inevitable hardships of this world. Not exactly a "parenting book," but a w ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any mother who wants to encourage a life-long habit of literacy in her children
Recommended to Melissa by: Jenna
Sarah Clarkson has written a book that sums up my educational philosophy on reading and on life: the storyformed soul...that this life is an epic tale created by the Greatest Storyteller and "each of us has but one tale to live as valiantly" or as vile as we can. There are "soul forming, self-shaping" influences in the stories we read.

Favorite quote: "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." Chesterton (62)
Bambi Moore
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you need reaffirmation of the value of reading to your children and providing them with the best literature to read for themselves, this is your book! Some will remember the book Honey for a Child’s Heart and this book at times reminded me of it. Great insights on the role, value and spiritual need of imagination that is shaped by good books.

I also think that many young adult ladies (and their parents) would also benefit from Sarah’s reflections, scattered here and there, on the temptations
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is so rich. It is abundant in encouragement and filled with Truth. It deserves a slow, quiet read that I did not give it, but hope to in the future. It has warmed me and validated things I understood in the periphery of my mind but did not have the words to express. Thanks, Sarah.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of the most important and encouraging books I've read in a few years. It expounded and clarified the vague sense I've carried since childhood that reading and stories were important and part of my identity. We can truly be changed by what we read, so what we choose to read ourselves and to our children holds eternal weight. Less
Oct 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely breathtaking read. This author is so wise and I'm sold on anything she writes. I have always been a fan of story and reading to my children...but this took it to a whole new level. Clarkson really understands how story and really good books affect children. Her book suggestions are amazing and I'm just completely sold in this amazing author.
Sarah is an excellent writer. I enjoyed her stories of healing through books. She filled up my Amazon cart, though I have read many she recommended as well. I especially appreciated her well-thought out argument for the Harry Potter books for Christian families.
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can think of no higher compliment than to say that Ms. Clarkson's prose reminds me of C.S. Lewis's writing, but more female, in a very good way.
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An argument for story-formed living living that shapes our family life.
Carla Freeman
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"How will you respond to a broken world? Will you take every bit of goodness and love you have ever known and use it to fight the darkness and win your way back to light? Or will you give in; will you let the darkness turn you into a villain? Hero or villain. Courage or fear. Hope or despair. The first crisis of struggle in a child's life are a series of small climax points on which their stories turn. Those are moments in which the direction of their story is formed. In the midst of those crisi ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Inspiring book. Unique point of view. I already love reading aloud to my kids and discussing books but this got me excited about how I might be forming my children's worldview and faith even more.

"How will you respond to a broken world? Will you take every bit of goodness and love you have ever known and use it to fight the darkness and win your way back to light? Or will you give in; will you let the darkness turn you into a villain?
Hero or villain. Courage or fear. Hope or despair. Th
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm in the minority here, but I did not love this book. I love reading to my kids and having a family culture in which books play a main role, but I found this book a slog to get through. It either felt like she was telling me things I already knew, or she was engaging is lengthy (and charming) descriptions of her literary-rich childhood (I actually enjoyed her moments of nostalgia, but I didn't really learn much from them except that I wish we lived in the forest and my kids were older so we co ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love the Clarksons and I am a major bookworm so this book did not disappoint!
Dec 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-books, education
I love the beginning of this book, but the last few chapters left me feeling flat.
Sarah Pfeiffenberger Reinholz
This book was so inspiring. We read a lot at our house but this has sparked something in me to motivate me to read more and more intentionally with my kids and for myself.
Kristen clifton
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is FANTASTIC! Whether you were a book lover as a child or you want your children to be but don’t know where to start this is a great resource. So thankful I bought this one!
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't think this was going to be a 5 star book, but Sarah wooed me with her words and images. I want to read every book she mentioned and I want to reread it all over again.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Using the elements of a story arc—exposition, rising action, crisis, falling action, and denouement, author Sarah Clarkson (daughter of Clay and Sally Clarkson of Whole-Hearted Child fame) looks at how parents can cultivate heroic hearts in their children. She uses her own experience to illustrate living a storyformed life, and at the end of each chapter, discusses ten books that made an impact on her life. It's a quick read, and you're likely to end up with a few additions to your TBR pile.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
There were some great moments in this book - but it felt like the author took what should have been a short essay or article and tried to stretch it to book length.
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
Loved this book about the great meaning that books hold for us as we grow to live the stories we were meant to be a part of. I found it both relatable and inspiring!
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a worthwhile read and she has great book recommendations. I took a lot of notes.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brain-enriching
I absolutely loved this book! I only wish that I could have read it when our four children were young. But, alas, our youngest is now almost 18!
Sarah Clarkson delightfully expounds on the importance of reading to children from birth through adulthood. She gives the reader a glimpse of her heartwarming recollections of growing up in a home that was rich in literary experiences. And, she shares many of the titles and authors that have influenced her over the years.
I really love the way she exhor
The author has a beautiful and well thought out presentation of her words. I appreciate the concept of stories forming the character of children and complementing God's truth.

However, I found her position on the importance of good literature to be a bit strong and her conclusions narrow at times. Growing up books were my constant companion, as they were hers. With a different temperament, some of the same stories left a different imprint than they did for her. A certain book doesn't necessarily
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
I already LOVE reading to my children, yet I still gleaned so many new truths from Sarah Clarkson. (First of all, I had never heard of the five parts of the story arc.)

She told of the guilt she felt over feeling more emotions in reading a fictional story than she felt when reading her Bible. Through this experience she learned that these stories are yet another avenue God can use to shape our souls and affections. Our family's own personal experience bears witness to this truth.

The goal is to r
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Sarah Clarkson is an author, a blogger, and a student of theology. She graduated from Wycliffe Hall, in Oxford, with a bachelor's degree in theology and is currently at work on a Master's degree in modern doctrine. She's the author of Read for the Heart (a guide to children's literature), Caught Up in a Story (on the formative power of story), and The Lifegiving Home (on the gift of creating a pla ...more
“You are part of God’s story on earth,” my parents whispered in our ears, “You can be like Aragorn or Frodo or Sam in the battles of the world, you can bring beauty like Jared (in The Journeyman by Elizabeth Yates), or discover something new like George Washington Carver. What kind of hero do you want to be?” 5 likes
“Life is a story, and each of us has but one tale to live as valiantly as we can.” 5 likes
More quotes…