Often on a Saturday, we cease our normal routine of work, yet still work. In the twentieth century, particularly in the latter half, Saturday is either filled with amusements (such as college football) or the work around the house or acreage that one may have difficulty completing in the normal, five-day, “work week”.
Saturdays, while they may involve a trip or two to town, and usually involve kitchen prep for Sunday, or shop work on a project, also leave time for reading, and stories. As a parent, and now a grandparent, one of my enjoyable tasks is giving a proper response to the request, “Tell me a story”. As my own children know, my wife has always been better at these impromptu sessions than I ever could be. One of my story series began with a tale about an errant sheep. Lame.
For any parent struggling with this challenge, though my reason for sharing is greater than this task, I offer a few links below. Would that I had read these resources in my first childhood. Tolkien’s essay, is, of course, classic. I highly recommend it. Not only does he talk about the origin and definition of Fairy Stories, he clearly has an ability for discerning art done well from art done poorly. He references Andrew Lang several times in his essay, and seems to agree with him, in part, at least in the rejection of certain stories that may be commendable, or intriguing, yet are not Fairy Stories.
Lang wrote, or I should say, compiled, twelve books of fairy stories that each have a different color title. In the first link following the actual essay is a web-based file for reading the Blue Fairy book online. The second link is for the various e-reader formats of that same book. The last line in the list of links from Project Gutenberg, is a page from which one can find all twelve of Lang’s colored fairy books. I am currently reading the Blue Fairy book, in the Kindle edition.
Lastly, the value of these books, and faery, in general, is for the rich imagination they help to foster, whether for oneself, or for the next generation. Familiarity with these stories may help one struggling with the task of telling stories, for one needs a well from which to draw, if one is to offer water to another. And, for further reading, I recommend the chapter, “The Ethics of Elfland”, by G.K. Chesterton, in his book, “Orthodoxy”.
As usual, I suspect I am the last one to “discover” these books, but, I share them, anyway. Enjoy!