by Sarah Clarkson
Six years ago, I was simply a book-loving girl intent upon sharing my favorite stories with the world. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I agreed to write a guide to children’s literature. I had been speaking on children’s books for quite awhile, telling parents how great books had shaped my own heart. I felt that the reading culture my parents had cultivated in my childhood was a gift and I wanted other children to know the rich gift of story as well. Write a book about that? Of course!
But I was in over my head. I went from scratching out impromptu booklists and enthusiastic talks on my favorite books to a major research project. I spent months studying publication dates, author histories, and original illustrators. I learned how to pare my wordy self down to a paragraph or two of enthusiastic recommendation per book. I read literacy statistics. But most of what I did was simply read. Right in the middle of my twenties, I went back to explore the picture books and historical fiction, the hero tales and imaginative novels that had shaped my childhood years. For six months, I immersed myself in the land of children’s literature.
I emerged with a book written and a heart ablaze with story. I entered the project intent upon proving the educational benefits of reading. I came out convinced that stories shape not only the brain, but also the soul. I felt almost awestruck to realize how deeply the stories of my childhood had shaped my moral imagination, my interior self, and my idea of what it means to live well. I realized that many of the virtues and standards I hold as an adult began with the richly imagined stories I read in childhood. Not only, I discovered, is childhood reading an educational golden key, it is a source of deep spiritual nourishment that forms the interior of a child to a love of what is true, beautiful, and good.
Stories, I realized, taught me how to live a great story myself.
In the years since the publication of Read for the Heart, I have continued my research, read dozens more children’s books, studied imagination at Oxford and have found that my passion to get great books into the hands of children only grows. But a large part of that is equipping parents to know which books to read and why. The more I study, the more I want parents to understand that a lively imagination is central to a great education and a vibrant soul. I want parents to grasp how a great story embodies the virtues they want their children to learn. I want them to understand that great stories help to form great lives, and then I want to help them know which stories to choose for their children.
So with great delight, I am here to announce the upcoming launch of Storyformed Books.
Storyformed will be a publishing imprint of Whole Heart Ministries, dedicated to offering quality literature and imaginative resources to families as well as creating an online community around the love of great children’s books. I hope to provide families with a wealth of stories, ideas, and resources as they jump into the reading world. Storyformed Books will include:
- Storyformed.com: A website crammed with literary resources for parents. There will be multiple booklists and book reviews, links to resources on reading and imagination, quotes, and a blog with guest posts by authors and parents who are passionate about bringing great stories to kids.
- Storyformed Books: This publishing imprint of WholeHeart Ministries will be focused on publishing great stories (old and new) as well as providing information and essays on the realm of the imagination. I’ll be publishing three lines of books:
- Storyformed Classics: For years, we Clarksons have collected antique and out-of-print stories. There are hundreds of beautiful stories that have simply been forgotten. Now, we intend to put them to good use by culling the absolute best and republishing them for a modern audience. The Storyformed Classics collection will include an author biography and reading guide with each story.
- Storyformed Books: I have a few stories up my sleeve. In the next couple of years, I’ll be publishing a series of children’s stories, as well as seeking out new, unpublished fiction from other authors.
- Storyformed Ideas: This will be a series of essay collections by authors who thought deeply about story and imagination and the impact those bear on the formation of a child’s heart. These will include thoughts from authors old (George MacDonald, Charlotte Mason) and new (myself and other current writers), and will provide the philosophical foundation for the storyformed life.
The official launch of Storyformed Books will take place sometime around the first of the year. I’ll be speaking about “The Storyformed Life” at the MomHeart conferences this year, as well as launching it all with the release of my own book: Storyformed: The Tale of a Girl and the Books Who Loved Her. Keep an eye out here for more information as we move nearer to the launch date. We’re hoping to have some special giveaways and events at that time. Meanwhile, read on!
Because great stories help to form great lives.
We have had some very fun giveaways this week, and are excited to announce our winners! ***The two winners who will receive a copy of "10 Gifts of Wisdom" in print are: Kristina Tuttle Kimberly Peters
***The two winners who will receive Joel's wonderful new album, "Midwinter Carols", are: Katie (no last name was provided, but you have been sent an email) Penney Hawkey Douglas Congratulations! If you see your name above, check your email inbox for a message from us!
***You can find Joel's marvelous album by clicking on this link.