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Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith Children's Myths in Contemporary America cover
  • ISBN: 9780226107783
  • ISBN10: 0226107787

Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith Children's Myths in Contemporary America

by Cindy Dell Clark

  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 10/01/1998
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Description
In Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith, Cindy Dell Clark went right to the believers - American children - to explore how children themselves give meaning to Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Through interviews and observation conducted in real-life settings from homes to shopping malls during the holidays, she asks whether believing in these figures is good or bad for children. Using their insights, she offers fresh, new interpretations about tooth loss as a rite of passage, about Christmas (including the role of the family and the Christmas tree), and about Easter customs (including the Easter egg hunt) in contemporary America. Clark challenges the notion that the figures are merely "imaginary". She demonstrates how children actively shape these traditions through their own creativity and beliefs. And because they require the child's faith in order to be experienced, they play an important and singular role in a child's psychological development. Through the mysteries and myths of Christmas and Easter, families balance the values of receiving and giving, of growth and sacrifice. Each aspect of the Santa myth, from his slide down a chimney to his big red suit, plays a part in a child's imagination. Through their offerings of milk and cookies and their letter writing, children bring their relationship to Santa into developing attitudes toward giving and receiving gifts. The Easter Bunny story, with its ritual egg hunt and baskets of brightly colored candy, is explored in terms of life and its possibility of growth. In these examples, Clark shows how children play an active role in constructing family rituals and cultural reality, since their willingness to make the storiestheir own helps to renew the traditions. This engaging look at our central symbols will hold great interest for parents, as well as for teachers, psychologists, and other professionals concerned with childhood culture. Complete with children's vivid testimonies and colorful illustrations, it is a revealing journey into a child's mind and world.
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