Category: Children’s Literature

It’s OK To Read Sad Stories to Children



Matt Arnerich writes:

Is your setting full of sterilised bookshelves?

Trolls? Out. Monsters? Removed. Faces are smiling, and endings always happy?

Well, maybe it’s time to change that…

What’s do we mean by a sad story anyway?

By sad stories, we don’t just mean books with bleak, harrowing endings. The sterilisation of stories includes removing scary monsters, getting rid of a hero’s triumph (which might be a sad ending for the baddie), and the hero’s failures too.

“A sad ending touches on feeling of compassion and sorrow, and scary figures such as ogres and trolls give our heroes a worthy adversary,” says Heather Shumaker, whose book It’s OK to Go Up The Slide features a brilliant chapter on exactly this subject. “Most of the time, the hero should prevail,” she says, “but if the story demands it, sometimes the wily fox must win.”

But before we can understand fully why sad stories matter, we need to first understand what makes stories so important in the first place.




Video/ Penelope Lively @ 5×15 – A Life of Reading


Penelope Lively

Video/ Penelope Lively @ 5×15 – A Life of Reading.

November 23rd 2011, The Tabernacle Penelope Lively is an acclaimed novelist, who has won many major book awards including the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Award and the Carnegie Medal. She was born in Cairo, Egypt and spent her childhood there. She came to England at the age of twelve, in 1945, and went to boarding school in Sussex. She subsequently read Modern History at St. Anne’s College, Oxford. In 1957 she married Jack Lively (who died in 1998). They had two children, Josephine and Adam. Jack Lively’s academic career took the family from Swansea to Sussex and Oxford, and eventually to Warwick University, where he was Professor of Politics. Penelope Lively now has six grandchildren and lives in London. She has reviewed regularly and written articles for most major newspapers and magazines. Penelope lively is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a member of PEN and the Society of Authors, of which she is a former chairman. She is a former member of the Arts Council Literature Panel and of the Board of the British Library. She has been a member of the Board of the British Council and of the Council of Goldsmiths College. She was awarded the OBE in 1989 and CBE in 2002.


Video/ Once Upon a Time: The Brothers Grimm


Video/ Once Upon a Time: The Brothers Grimm.

This film’s full title is “Once Upon a Time: The Fairy Tale Land of the Brothers Grimm” and it is part documentary and part travelogue. It offers a history of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and their life’s mission to collect, compile and publish a series of books devoted to German folk tales which had been passed down by oral tradition over many centuries. The 200 stories they collected included those of Rapunzel, Hanzel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, the Frog King and Little Red Riding Hood. The film shows the early life of the Brothers Grimm and the places they lived and traveled to in the course of their work. We see the landscapes that inspired the stories and hear readings from them on the soundtrack. There are puppet shows enacting some of the stories and reenactments of village rituals. This is a German film and was made sometime in the 1980s and distributed by German embassies and consuls.

Video/ Writing and publishing children’s literature

Video/ Writing and publishing children’s literature.

The Alumni Knowledge Exchange Day 2011 took place on campus recently with events ranging from workshops to panel discussions. The panel discussion below ‘Writing and Publishing Children’s Literature’ saw five Warwick alumni, all with varying literature-based backgrounds, sharing their advice on how best to approach writing a book and getting over the many hurdles that may be faced. How does it feel to have your first book published? What obstacles do aspiring writers face? Chaired by Birmingham-born writer Leila Rasheed (who now tutors on the Warwick Writing Programme), it comprised alumni with a wealth of experience, not only in the craft of writing, but on topics such as how to get published, editing children’s literature, and promoting yourself and your books. Joining guests Helen Thomas, Justin Somper, Sally Nicholls and Mal Peet, Rasheed begins by inviting each to say something about the experience of getting published for the first time.