Vivian Gussin Paley is a former kindergarten teacher, author of The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter, and a MacArthur Award winner. In this enchanting and edifying book, she revels in what she has seen happen in schools when she has given children the chance to make up stories and have their classmates dramatize them. Paley observes: "These spontaneous storytellers create little homes for one another where everyone can imagine playing a role and no one is left out."
Using a variety of the children's tales as examples, the author celebrates the ability of kids to create moments of happiness and hopefulness for each other. Paley's 97-year-old mother reminds her that the Hasidim teach people to think about goodness by telling them stories. She finds a quotation from Rabbi Yehuda Nisiah that says: "The moral universe rests upon the breath of schoolchildren."
All of this input enables Paley to see the spiritual dimensions of storytelling in the classroom. Here children become witnesses to acts of kindness. They open the doors of their hearts with tales that encourage empathy. And they celebrate imagination as a deep resource of human unity and mutuality.