Children’s Stories and Narrative Arcs

Before I left my job in Atlanta to start at seminary, one of my co-workers told me a strategy her brother had used while at school to help him deal with the complexities of theological education: he read Winnie the Pooh. I think that’s outstanding. So, in my own way I’m starting to copy him. I’ve been visiting the library near my house and going into the children’s section and checking out Roald Dahl books. I’m not embarrassed. I’m already reading his short stories for adults. So it kind of fits with what I was already doing. It’s nice though. I missed all these books when I was growing up. I saw Willy Wonka, of course, but I never knew the book it was based upon. The simplicity and straightforwardness of the children’s story helps me just to decompress from the weightyness of all the other reading. Next up: James and the Giant Peach.

Has anyone out there read Dahl? What is your favorite book by him?

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In hermeneutics class this past week we’ve been talking about interpreting narrative portions of Scripture. One of the things we’ve talked about is just being able to see Bible stories as stories. They follow the basic rules for stories that are encapsulated in this illustration:

Narrative Arc

I find this incredibly interesting, not just in understanding the Bible, but also in other stories I’m reading. I’ve never really read stories with this kind of thing in mind before. I think I might begin practicing on the Dahl stories as a kind of game. Maybe it will be fun.

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(On another note, I haven’t given up reading War & Peace yet. I’m still plodding along. I expect to have another section completed by next week.)

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4 Responses to “Children’s Stories and Narrative Arcs”


  1. 1 Alaina March 19, 2008 at 8:48 PM

    My favorite children’s stories are Lemoney Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” . . . The series should definitely be on your “to read” list.

  2. 2 glennal March 19, 2008 at 9:18 PM

    Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve seen these in the bookstore but I haven’t read any yet. Is there something that makes them a favorite?

  3. 3 Alaina March 19, 2008 at 9:46 PM

    I found the books to be extremely well written . . . and fun. The author somewhat twists what you would usually expect to see in a children’s story, but the narrative and characters still have that “innocence” that’s found in children’s fiction.

  4. 4 glennal March 20, 2008 at 6:30 AM

    I’ll definitely add them to my list, although it might not be till next Fall. Wouldn’t it be nice just to have a month to read all the things you want and have all the energy to do it! I’d love that.


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