Critique “What Good Books Do for Children” Essay

Arthur Schlesinger, author of many authoritative histories, writes “What Good Books Do For Children. ” In the article, he explains how television has replaced the books in the life of the young, and how his generation may have been the last to grow up in a print culture. Schlesinger also believes that most people have read all they are going to read by the age of twenty-five. He believes with a passion that children should read books that face reality rather than fantasy.

The author makes a decent argument as to why classic fairytales are better for children than modern tales; however, he misses a few details that may have helped his argument. Schlesinger says that children should read or have books read to them about how life is harsh and to have them read conflict knowing that human nature may not always have good intentions. The question is “When should a child begin reading these types of tales? ”. Certainly not a two-four year old. This is a question that Schlesinger has failed to answer.

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They are too young to understand what they are comprehending, and it’s a safe bet that they don’t know how to read at this age. He should have said when he thinks childhood begins, like how he says when childhood ends, which he says to be around fourteen. Two year olds should not be hearing about birds peck out the eyes of evil stepsisters or having their big toe and heel cut off. That is just too violent for the hearts of precious small two year olds. His mother read him those classic fairytales. Schlesinger never once says how old he was when she started reading them to him.

I think this would have to be something to include in the article. Schlesinger believes that childhood is finite, meaning childhood has an end. It cannot last forever because soon children have to grow up and become adults. He compares how childhood is finite and so is the number of books one can read. No one can possibly read all of the books ever made in a lifetime. There a millions and millions of books in the world. He wonders why people should spend time on modern morality tales in which the girl plays a doctor and the boys play a nurse, when they can read the tales like Brother Grimm’s version of Cinderella.

Reading books with everyday events doesn’t expand imagination at all. Children need to be exposed to books that open new worlds and can return with understandings their own experience could not have made and it overall gives them a new meaning of life, believes Schlesinger. I just wonder why he thinks these books will give children a new meaning of life. There life has just began, why is he saying this, because he acts like the children are way older than what he suggests them to be. The author admits that the serious point of children’s books is too expand imagination and not to improve behavior which is what modern tales are trying to do.

He really wants to persuade the reader into believing what he says about modern versus classic fairytales. Even though he has tried, he should have added in some statistics to this article. Most of what he says is based on his opinions and what he claims. A reader may have another opinion about it, so he should have added in what other people think about it. This I believe would have given the article an edge to it. Although, he does quote Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James to better help his argument, which is a great thing to include. It makes the reader think you put time and effort into the article.

Schlesinger makes a decent argument as to why classic fairytales are better for children than modern tales; although, he does miss a couple of details that may have helped his argument. He could have said what age he thinks children should start to read the classic fairytales. He could have also used statistics to back up his claim about children’s books. However, he does quote famous authors, so he has that going for him. I believe with him adding in these certain things he can help his argument and just maybe more people will take his side about how classic fairytales are better for children than modern tales.