S. D. Smith, ‘The Green Ember’ and the Power of Stories


The world is broken. Reading the news is enough to tell us that. Introducing our children to this broken world can be overwhelming, since there is a usually a large gap between the actual state of the world and the state of the world as it should be.

Stories are a central way we explain the world’s problems to children. Stories often function as a proxy memory for children. For example, Taran in Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain series grows up in front of the reader. His final choice at the end of the last book demonstrates that he has abandoned the foolish dreams of his youth for self-sacrificing maturity. The child reader (and the adult, too) lives vicariously through Taran’s experiences, which function as “memories,” when she encounters the story. These memories shape the moral imagination of children in mysterious and powerful ways. This is why the “coming of age” motif is so popular in children’s literature. …Read More.