Home > Uncategorized > Interview: The Best Books Are Companions, Teachers, and Hope-Givers

A conversation on reading with an avid reader, “Book Girl” Sarah Clarkson.

Every reader has a teetering “TBR” (to be read) pile that either entices or intimidates, depending on the moment. Between the vast array of reading choices and the army of “bookstagrammers” and Goodreads members posting about their latest literary delicacy, the feeling of “so many books, so little time” presses in powerfully. As a resource for harried readers who want their reading to count, Sarah Clarkson, a writer and lifelong reader, offers Book Girl: A Journey through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life.

Packed with book lists in categories ranging from theology to children’s books to fantasy novels, Book Girl makes the case for reading as a pathway to delight, spiritual formation, and intellectual growth. Lorilee Craker, author of Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me: What My Favorite Book Taught Me about Grace, Belonging, and the Orphan in Us All, spoke with Clarkson about how she “set[s] a course of reading through an ocean of endless books.”

Let’s start at the beginning, with nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Many young parents today are avoiding these classic tales of grandmothers being eaten by wolves, on the grounds that they are too dark. What do you say?

There is so much confusion surrounding the question of how much a child should be exposed to. G. K. Chesterton said, “Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”

Children need to know dragons can be beaten. Fairy tales speak …

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