TENDING THE HEART OF VIRTUE, How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination | Viegen Guroian, Oxford University Press, p198.
Any book whose idea sprouted from a conversation between an author and the late Russel Kirk is off to a good start. From this acknowledgment through the first 39 pages, Guroian pens a fantastic essay on the formative value of quality literature in a child's moral development. He follows Chesterton's guidance that stories are indispensable in children's education.
Fair enough. It is understood that children and teenagers who read Montesquieu are not the norm. We all know stories - that powerful, imagination-based medium - long a staple of our experience can guide or teach with significant impact.
Guroian then spends the balance of the book making a case for his cannon, which includes Pinocchio, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte's Webb, Bambi, The Snow Queen, The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Princess and the Goblin, and Prince Caspian.
The author spends inordinate energies giving a virtue-based interpretation of these classics and often juxtaposes the original tales with their vapid Disney-based iterations.
As cannons go, his list is relatively short. He does an excellent case dissecting in detail - potentially too exhaustive - of the tomes on his list. His explanation of these stories is enlightening but borders on tedious.
Guroian's work does, however, provide an essential service, implicitly reminding parents of their role as the primary educator. And as with all endeavors, success first requires intentionality.