Children - The Effect Of Literature
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
It remains to speak of the value of literature in developing the imagination of a child, and in proportion as this is the most important of all means, so it is the one about which there is the least to be said. How it should be used with Raising Children, both the very young Raising Children, and those of maturer years, has been suggested in the discussion of reading for Raising Children, for it is impossible to separate the imaginative values of reading from all the others. Unlike every other form of artistic stimulus, with the only possible exception of music, it can be begun earlier and continued more completely in a child's normal life.
It is for this reason that the fairy literature of the world holds the place it does in the life of each new generation. There is nothing so full of imagination, of suggestion, of limitless fascination. No child need outgrow its charm, and no adult need be ashamed of its enjoyment. It is the best inheritance which each age can pass on to the next.
In the same way, poetry holds a place alone in the imaginative endowment of the world. Here we see the attempt to unite two arts, music and speech, to create a great art, perfect and complete in itself, and by far superior to either of its parent arts. The child who is early made familiar with the great poetry of the world will find its imaginative horizon broadened far beyond that of most of its contemporaries. The gain in personal pleasure and resourcefulness cannot be measured.