The fortifying value of stories

Over at The Children’s Hour, Ray Van Neste blogs about books for reading to children, and today he posted about The Lord of the Rings – I like this guy – and the strengthening that we can find through reading and remembering good stories.

Van Neste writes this:

I am struck by how often in great stories the authors portray their characters drawing strength and wisdom from the stories they have heard since childhood (the same thing occurs in Lewis’ Narnia stories). Stories are important for life- not just for children but adults as well. It is important to hear and learn good stories in childhood precisely so that you can draw upon them when you are grown.

He has been reading to his children from The Two Towers, and came upon this quote in which Frodo and Sam are talking about this very topic, remembering the great stories. Of course, the book is more extensive than the movie, but I remember that they handled this moment well in the film version.

frodo and sam“The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same — like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’

‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’

‘No, sir, of course not. …Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?’

‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo. ‘But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later — or sooner.’ …

[Sam speaking] Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.”

Get your child good books and read to them from great, memorable stories that will encourage them to hope in God.

P.S. Also, see the beginning of a series on a similar topic over at Pluggedin Online.


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