Author Mitali Perkins offers readers a unique blend of personal memoir, literary critique, Christian spiritual guidance, and commentary on today’s world. As Perkins explores seven classic children’s books—Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Emily of Deep Valley, The Hobbit, Little Women, A Little Princess, and The Silver Chair—she hopes for several outcomes for her readers. First, Perkins encourages readers to “fall openly and unashamedly in love with children’s literature.” Her second goal? Offering readers the opportunity to discover, or rediscover, seven classics from the past “that may help resist demoralizing patterns pressed upon us by our own era.” Perkins also desires to help readers become “better equipped to engage critically with stories around issues like race, culture, and power.” And fourth—the most profoundly formative aspect of the book in this reader’s estimation—Perkins hopes readers will be “inspired to pursue virtue—specifically, the cardinal virtues of prudence, wisdom, justice, and temperance and the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.”
Unflinchingly and with refreshing honesty, Perkins takes on “the elephant in the room,” namely, that the seven classics she reflects on were written by people of European descent in the past, which, according to Perkins, “might be why many of their stories contain flaws related to race and culture.” Perkins offers her unique experience and perspective—when she was 7 years old, her family immigrated from Kolkata, India, to the United States—to answer probing questions, such as, “How can we balance the reader’s right to access literature from the past with our duty to protect and empower children, especially those from marginalized or oppressed communities?”
As Perkins explores seven virtues and the seven vices they battle against, she emphasizes that, since she became a Christian, she has experienced “the presence and power of God’s Spirit in encouraging virtue and avoiding vice. … Such mysterious, invisible help from God is so vital in my journey that I must make that provision clear, especially in a book I’m writing to explore the virtuous life.”
Recommended for Christian parents, caregivers, and educators. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter make Steeped in Stories an excellent choice for individual study or small group discussion. (Broadleaf Books)
About the Author
Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.