When my kids were little, they loved books. I knew how important it was to read to young children, and since I had just graduated with a master’s in education, I was a little obsessed with making sure my two sons were read to often. Fortunately, they both seemed to love our times together reading and were reading to themselves pretty quickly.
It was a teacher’s dream come true. I had two avid readers on my hands, and, of course, I was delighted. In fact, keeping their library stocked meant many trips to the library and skulking around bookstores frequently.
One of their favorite books, by the time they reached about seven and nine, was D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. I can see that bright yellow cover in my mind’s eye whenever I think back on our times together reading about Zeus, Hermes, Athena, and the rest.
The reason for highlighting this book, over all the significant other children’s books, is that I believe getting involved with the myths of other cultures has an effect on a person’s literary savvy for the rest of his or her life. And the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) agrees.
On its website, Edsitement.neh.gov, the NEH explains that Greek mythology is exciting and filled with myriad stories of love, war, magic, monsters, and much, much more. For the reluctant reader, mythology can be a gateway to convincing young ones how fabulous reading can be. But, most importantly, mythology has inspired writers, artists, musicians, and sculptors over the centuries. Knowing the myths leads to a greater understanding of literature and the arts.
Thomas Bulfinch, who wrote Bulfinch’s Mythology, said:
Without a knowledge of mythology much of the elegant literature of our own language cannot be understood and appreciated.
So, Bulfinch, the NEH, and I think that this book is a must-have for kids. I have no association with the sale of this book, but I wish I did because thousands of copies have been sold since its publication sometime in the 30s.
Christmas is coming. I humbly suggest that this would be a lovely and advantageous gift for any of the children on your gift-giving list. Ho, ho, ho!