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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

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  375 ratings  ·  62 reviews
As the popularity of William Bennett's Book of Virtues attests, parents are turning more and more to children's literature to help instill values in their kids. Now, in this elegantly written and passionate book, Vigen Guroian provides the perfect complement to books such as Bennett's, offering parents and teachers a much-needed roadmap to some of our finest children's sto ...more
Published February 7th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published May 28th 1998)
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Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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.
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without question, one of the most important books I own.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Vigen Guroian, in this book, not only help us to see how our beloved classic children stories were beautifully and prayerfully crafted but makes us want to revisit them as adult, with new eyes.

This book does not only give us better understanding but challenges us to read the best book to our children . I highly recommend this book to anyone who read stories to little and not so little ones .
Matthew Richey
Wonderful book on the power that quality fiction has on the moral formation of children. This has given me many avenues to pursue in reading to the boys (and eventually my daughter... there were a lot of books with morally strong young heroines). I highly recommend this book to parents, those who read to children, and those who read fiction.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: angie, nonfiction
I really liked this book. It was rather a lot of work to read. I found myself reading and re-reading many of the paragraphs to better grasp their messages. Guroian’s writing is chock full of taxing (for this reader) vocabulary, so the book appears deceptively small at under 200 pages. Though shorter than most books I read, this took me considerably longer to finish. I wholeheartedly concur with the author’s assertion that a child’s moral imagination is awakened and informed through story - speci ...more
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is such a great resource! I really enjoyed the analysis of different fairytales. It opened my eyes to the depth presented in children's literature. I can easily see how it sparks a child's moral imagination. It is a book I will read again. ...more
Melody Schwarting
I was rather looking forward to this one, but there was something lacking in it.

The subtitle should be scrapped. Tending the Heart of Virtue does not reveal how fairy tales enliven children's moral imaginations, though Guroian reveals much about his own imagination, and plenty about how fairy tales teach virtue (love, courage, faith, and maturation in general). A few times, he refers to his own children, but beyond that, his speculations are just speculative, and don't offer any real promises or
Sarah Wolfe
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Much better literary criticism of the chosen fairy tales than the usual postmodern ilk. But so desperately missing Christ!
Debbie Bratton
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent way to think about the classics as we read them for ourselves or to our children. Definitely will be reading some of the originals before Disney got a hold of them, like Pinocchio and The Little Mermaid. I had a few theological disagreements along the way, but aside from that I found the book very helpful.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, education
This book has been on my shelves for more than a decade, and I've dipped in periodically to savor parts. But finally, I can say I've read the entire thing. ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great thoughts on classics for children, including fairy tales, and their importance in illustrating moral truth through story.
Jennifer O'Steen
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
I can not recommend this book enough. It was so good I took my time with it a bit. This is a must read for homeschooling moms, lovers of literature, Christians, and current and former children.
This book does not deliver as much as its subtitle seems to promise. The introductory chapters I found rather interesting background, especially appreciating the distinction drawn between "values" and "virtue" as well as discussion of teaching ethics vs. cultivating moral imagination. However, the body of the book was less helpful for me.

Dr. Guroian takes various children's books and shows some of the ways in which these lay out morality for children to see and engage with. His choices of storie
Mar 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A more accurate subtitle would have been "The Importance of Using Classic Stories to Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination." I started reading this book with the hope that there would be an emphasis on the "how" of awakening moral imagination - I could use some practical suggestions on how to encourage children to think about and exercise moral decisionmaking. However, aside from the first part of the book, which was a great apologetic on the benefits of reading classic literature to your child, th ...more
Greg Mcneilly
TENDING THE HEART OF VIRTUE, How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination | Viegen Guroian, Oxford University Press, p198.

Any book whose idea sprouted from a conversation between an author and the late Russel Kirk is off to a good start. From this acknowledgment through the first 39-pages, Guroian pens a fantastic essay on the formative value of quality literature in a child's moral development. He follows Chesterton's guidance that stories are indispensable in the education of childr
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I could see myself buying and keeping to read over and over. It's so full of wonderful and beautiful summaries of a few fairy tales and goes into detail why we must read these to quench our children's moral imaginations. I will admit, before becoming a homeschooling momma, even though I am an avid reader, I never cared to read fairy tales. Even as a child I didn't see their purpose but oh how things have changed, my mind has been opened and awakened and I just can't believe I ...more
Sarah Middlestead
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The great fairy tales and fantasy stories capture the meaning of morality through vivid depictions of the struggle between good and evil, where characters must make difficult choices between right and wrong or heroes and villains must contest the very fate of imaginary worlds. (p. 18)”

While I did not agree with all of Guroian’s theology, he does help his reader walk through some fantastic stories to find goodness, truth, and beauty. Plus, I came out of it with a fantastic book list.

This is a b
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a book for deep thinking. Definitely not a quick read. I needed lots of time to process. The author offers some wonderful insights and food for thought about the value of fiction and fairy tales in particular for teaching children to discern good from evil and to encourage them to choose what is good. Highly recommended if you teach, if you enjoy reading to your kids, or if you would like to dig a little deeper into how you can help your children choose good literature.
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homeschool-books
A pretty dense book that is full of compelling reasoning for why fairy tales and classic stories are so important for children (and really for everyone) in building them up from within, and developing a moral imagination, which is the foundation for virtue. After reading this book I'm so motivated to read all the fairy tales in the original versions, as I really feel I've missed some incredible stories full of truth and beauty. ...more
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, education
I anticipated loving this book, but it left me wanting. Possibly because it was more academic than I had imagined and I'm still sleep deprived and found it hard to muddle through in places. I had hoped for some clear, easy-to-use teaching points as I read with my girls, but didn't really find that. I think it's worth a re-read in a few months or years, maybe when I'm a little better rested and better able to wrap my brain around the academic language. ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, education
This book will not rest long on my shelf before I give it a second read. I am still chewing on many thoughts that surfaced as I slowly soaked this book in. Highly recommend to all those who love literature, especially those who have young children, and are interested in thoughtfully considering what we read with our children and why.
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book on the power of good stories to teach children virtue and morality. Good stories don't hit you over the head with a moral (I hate those! I don't want to be told what to think.) Rather this talks about fairy tales and how the best stories for children are those that can be read and enjoyed at any age. ...more
Jlnpeacock Peacock
The book is extremely helpful for anyone teaching younger children and desiring to instill in them a proper understanding of virtue. Through reading correctly and reading books of substance, one can help create modern day heroes who are loyal, virtuous, courageous, and have solid foundations in philosophy/religion that will see them through all of life.
Wresha P
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lot more religious than I expected. I would have liked a more secular analysis of morality in stories, but I gleaned from it what I could and wholeheartedly agree with the author that morality and ethics are not something that can be taught as rules but must be captured by our own imagination and completing storytelling.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were a few theological disagreements for me in this book (ex. I don't believe Mary is the Queen of Heaven), but I enjoyed reading the author's Christian worldview of several classic children's stories. ...more
Christy Peterson
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
The author gives great insights of the virtues in children’s classics like Pinocchio, The Princess and the Goblin, Bambi (still not sure I like that one), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Velveteen Rabbit, and many others.
Kaysie Campbell
Makes me want to go read many of the stories that Disney mucked up from the original books: the little mermaid, Snow White, Bambi. Some of them that I HAVE read, Pinocchio, the princess and the goblin, wind in the willows, I’d love to read again to see some of the themes and ideas I missed.
Z Su
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book - got me thinking a lot. It's not a thick book but took me a while as I will read, reflect, re-read sections before moving on. I have read most of the stories in this book and am now looking at them in a different light. ...more
April Tolbert
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book was an eye opener for me in regards to the importance of fairytales in the education of my children.
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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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