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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provides useful insights into stories and how it impacts children's lives
Maria Tatar's "Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood" is an engaging read, and does not resort to heavy-handed use of language nor a boorish academic tone to make it's point. This made it highly appealing to me and I found a lot of useful insights into the powerful impact of stories upon children.

Chapter One: Reading Them to Sleep [Storytelling...
Published on July 18, 2009 by Z Hayes

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Folklore Expert
Maria Tatar has written an interesting book for those of us who believe in the importance of stories and are fascinated by folklore. Unfortunately, she doesn't write very well. Quite repetitive and no voice to speak of. I was disappointed.
Published 16 months ago by FlyingFish


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provides useful insights into stories and how it impacts children's lives, July 18, 2009
This review is from: Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood (Hardcover)
Maria Tatar's "Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood" is an engaging read, and does not resort to heavy-handed use of language nor a boorish academic tone to make it's point. This made it highly appealing to me and I found a lot of useful insights into the powerful impact of stories upon children.

Chapter One: Reading Them to Sleep [Storytelling and the Invention of Bedtime Reading] explores the various facets of storytelling and bedtime reading. Chapter Two: Beauty, Horror, and Ignition Power [Can Books Change Us?} looks at narrative techniques, especially on reader's fascination with the macabre and horrific. Chapter Three: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep [Brushes with Death] explores the theme of death in children's books. Chapter Four: The Magic Art of the Great Humbug [How to do Things with Words] explores how words and thoughts as expressed in various children's literary works, have the power to affect children. Chapter Five: Theaters for the Imagination [What words can do to you] also explores the power of literature on children.

My major criticism of this book is in the lack of comprehensive representation of major children's authors [which I admit is difficult under the constraints of space etc] or authors whose works have had significant impact on children [e.g. Enid Blyton whose works had a huge impact on me as a child, Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit tales etc.]

I loved the Appendix which had a compilation taken from the works of noted authors on how books have a transformative power [e.g. Frances Hodgson Burnett, Graham Greene, Eudora Welty, Gustave Flaubert, and many more]. There is an extensive Notes section as well as Bibliography, and an Index.

On the whole, I gained a couple of useful insights into the pull of literature and it's impact on children. It definitely makes the case for reading to children, something I'm passionate about. I feel this book is valuable to parents, teachers, librarians and anyone involved/interested in encouraging reading in children.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking, important & personal., July 31, 2009
By 
Jerry Griswold (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood (Hardcover)
A valuable book for scholars and the intellectually inclined parent, "Enchanted Hunters" is Maria Tatar's best offering to date. Sliding sideways from her solid scholarship on the fairy tales, Tatar has entered the field of Children's Literature Studies by means of the topic of reading and done something original and precedent setting. Those ready to go beyond the orthodoxy of the Jacqueline Rose Cult will find here new ways of examining childhood experience, as well as the perfect pitch of an authorial voice that is warm and personal. In literary scholarship, this book is the equivalent of the perfect string quartet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, enjoyable read., July 24, 2013
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I found this book very enjoyable, easily readable and quite educational. I'm a children's recording artist, not a student of children's literature, but I found this book most interesting. All parents of young children would benefit from reading this. Grandparents would too! Thanks Maria for this little gem! Sea Tunes For Kids Cow Tunes for Kids
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Do Children Lie About Reading?, August 12, 2014
This review is from: Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood (Hardcover)
Maria Tatar, a professor of German who has worked heavily in German-language fairy tales, became curious about the phenomenon of "bedtime stories." The idea of reading children into sleepiness makes little sense; she writes: "Nothing keeps you awake like a good story." How, then, do children consume stories? Given access to books, kids read voraciously, tell one another stories, play make-believe, and enact impromptu plays. Stories are endemic to childhood.

Children find themselves pulled between conflicting forces, the eat-your-spinach wholesome reading grown-ups demand, and the deep, sensory experiences of stories they actually seek. As Tatar notes, children read with great aplomb, disappearing into books because they love the experience. And "experience" certainly describes it: kids embrace books that create rich sensory detail and muscular action. Children have opportunities to enjoy reading as grown-ups, with jobs and mortgages and responsibilities, cannot.

Presumably, the reading experience, which elides unnecessary content, feels more real and intense than ordinary life, with its long, inactive stretches of workaday banality. Children, who lack lived experiences, become seasoned through their stories. Because reading lets us experience a range of pleasures--different identities, different time periods, different nations--we absorb it deeply, particularly when we don't have conflicting ideas or pressures attempting to limit and control our thoughts.

Knowing this, Tatar's overview of pre-Twentieth Century "children's literature" is downright chilling. In Tatar's telling, adult scholars once sought to stifle children's curiosity, numb their desire for experience, and reduce kids to mere moral instruments. Not for nothing did teachers foist "primers" on kids, a learning apparatus first devised for monastic devotion. The enthusiasm, joy, and wonder we associate with childhood, teachers once unabashedly strove to squelch.

Tatar lavishes praise upon writers like JM Barrie, of Peter Pan fame, or Wonderland creator Lewis Carroll, grown-ups who didn't have children of their own. Freed from responsibility for children's moral upbringing, they immerse themselves in what it means to be young. Carroll's colorful, nigh-psychedelic otherworld, and Barrie's adventurous utopia, transcend age, era, and nation. No wonder their Victorian fairy stories retain massive, imitative popularity generations later.

Consider the "literature" adults insist children should consume. From the highly moralistic parables in elementary schoolrooms, to the belletristic art writing favored in high school and college courses, it's hard to imagine writing more incisively designed to alienate avid readers. Twenty-some years removed from 11th Grade English, I've finally begun appreciating Hemingway's and Fitzgerald's true accomplishments; but reading because we're "supposed to" generates a dry, joyless experience.

No wonder authors frequently dismissed as "young adult" writers, like JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins, have dedicated adult audiences. Their immersive storytelling is essentially bilingual, having both the sensory, theatrical content children love (and adults too, if we're honest), and the subtlety and nuance adults seek. Seven-year-olds, seventeen-year-olds, and seventy-year-old can all lose themselves in Harry Potter, while having unique, sophisticated experiences appropriate to their age range.

Yet, in perhaps Tatar's most telling passages, children feel openly guilty about reading. Besides her own students, Tatar cites influential sources, from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Robin Williams, on this duality: making and consuming stories is children's greatest joy, but we mock "introverts," "addicts," and "bookworms" for reading. Some never outgrow this. Tatar quotes Oprah Winfrey recounting her mother berating her for "think[ing] you're better than the other kids."

No wonder adults shift reading energies onto other tasks. From work addiction to family responsibility to even just reading books they "ought to" read, adults divert their attention to putatively useful purposes. Yet Tatar notes adults read to children, at least partly, to recapture that intense "theatre for the imagination" they remember from childhood. I suggest grown-ups read paperback romances and spy thrillers (essentially grown-up fairy tales) for similar purpose.

Tatar recaptures the way we read during our childhood, seeking sophisticated experience and sensory richness, not intellectual heft. Whether society steals it (as I believe) or our psyches cannot generate images internally anymore (as Tatar implies), we adults lose this pleasure in reading, and spend years of adulthood second-guessing ourselves. We intellectually seek meaningful themes and critical complexity, while longing to simply vanish into somebody's lavishly felt story.

Stories, Tatar declares, create the experience of childhood. Between the sensory pleasure of Wonderland, and the complex experiences kids only have vicariously, childhood remains the unique domain of stories. And while Tatar doesn't craft a writing guide for children's literature, nor a discursus on adulthood reading, her message lies behind every grown-up's reading experience. We spend adulthood seeking to rediscover that wonderful, magical story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Door to the Imagination, February 11, 2013
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The subtitle, "the power of stories in childhood", informs the reader not only about the subject of this fascinating book, it also suggests the significance the author attributes to the stories of childhood. Her analysis of children's literature, "Let us, for a moment draw back the curtain to see exactly how the great wizards of the literary world have worked their magic", as well as her many insights into the effects of that magic -- whether experienced through bedside stories or childhood reading -- are both insightful and informative. I found Enchanted Hunters to be an excellent and thought provoking book for anyone -- including parents -- interested in children's literature, reading, and the impact on the young who enter this realm of the imagination.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stories are powerful, March 22, 2013
Tatar offers some great insights into the value of early childhood reading, that, I believe, are equally applicable to reading at any age. Stories we read at our formative ages seem to have a longer lasting impact on us, but that doesn't discount the power of stories read in adulthood as well--particularly if we can cultivate our sense of child-like wonder.

Good book, with good insights.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Folklore Expert, April 17, 2013
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Maria Tatar has written an interesting book for those of us who believe in the importance of stories and are fascinated by folklore. Unfortunately, she doesn't write very well. Quite repetitive and no voice to speak of. I was disappointed.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not My Favorite Tatar, January 14, 2012
By 
Ruth Wherland (Walla Walla, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood (Hardcover)
I am a big fan of Maria Tatar's work, but this book didn't really impress me. I didn't find any of the ideas she discussed terribly interesting or consequential. Her theories about the meaning of reading bedtime stories left me wondering "So what?"
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Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood
Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood by Maria Tatar (Hardcover - Mar. 2009)
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