Cover Image: Big Ideas from Literature

Big Ideas from Literature

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Member Reviews

I love the concept of this book! It had some successes, and also swung and missed on a few levels.

The illustrations were absolutely the standout for me. I found them charming, whimsical, and surprisingly detailed--love!

And a book about books, and big ideas from lit, for kids? Fantastic! I'm all for it!

That being said, I found the tone incredibly patronizing. I haven't read any of the other books in the series; perhaps if I had, I would have known what to expect going in. Lots of text that felt dumbed down for the reader. I think they would have been more successful in paring down the text and giving their readers more credit for comprehension.

The book's worldview was also incredibly different from my own. That can have its perks, but here, it unfortunately didn't, instead making generalizations (notably about the Bible and its place in Christianity, as another reviewer mentioned) and channeling what CS Lewis might call "chronological snobbery."

A win for the pictures, a miss for the text.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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Big Ideas in Literature (The School of Life; March 2024) is a book all about one of my favorite subjects: literature. It introduces what makes literature literature, the history of literature and books, and what big topics literature can address, even through amusing situations and language.

Throughout the book, the authors highlight literature from history and the modern world that reflect the concept just discussed, starting with archaic books I’d never heard of and moving into others that I’d definitely name as classics, and then further expanding into new-to-me books that can be directly applied to me (or any reader) as I consider what is “wise.”

I liked how after each book introduction, the authors asked a few questions to help the reader engage and apply the text to our own lives. Even with the works I’d never heard of, it was a great way to engage in this type of classic literature.

The book is presented in an open attractive format, with child-friendly illustrations and doodles throughout, as well as plenty of white space to add to the readability. The pattern of discussion, book example, and questions made it a well organized read that helped the ideas come across clearly.

As a literature nerd myself, I appreciated the perspectives on literature and hope that it would appeal to their youth readers as much as I enjoyed it. It could be a nice outline for a teacher of literature in introducing these concepts in a classroom, too.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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This was a fascinating book: well-illustrated, not too complicated or wordy, with interesting messages. I liked how it combined the history of writing and stories, along with the practical lessons we can learn from some popular children's books. It was an unusual mix that I wasn't expecting but it worked.
This is my first read from the Big Ideas series and I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure how I would use it in class. Perhaps, using extracts to go along with particular aspects of my teaching and I'd definitely recommend it to my students who are utter bookworms, like myself. The illustrations were good too. I will definitely be purchasing it and having it as part of my classroom non-fiction selection.

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Playfully illustrated, this book is interactive with activities and lessons to learn along the way. Broken down into easily digestible topics and sections covering things like: the very first book, imagination, guidance, reflection and why you love books 📚

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This was a fascinating, enjoyable read. The intended audience is children, but any reader can benefit from checking this out! I could see bookworms and non-readers alike appreciating this for its emphasis on the relevance of literature across cultures and time. The book covers the history of books, the impact of a selection of literary works, and the role of books in the future. The chapters are short and easy to comprehend.

Thank you NetGalley and School of Life for this advanced copy. All opinions are my own.

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Do you ever wonder what to do when you’re at a point where you think there is nothing to do? Sometimes I sit down and decide that what I want to do is find a book that I can read, enjoy and/or at least learn something new. This book teaches children and adults the history of literature. It starts with the first story ever written down to the first book published for children. Why were books published for children? Stories can help everyone to understand the world around them. Books can be a friend when you need one. How? Books don’t talk back at you negatively but with a whole new way to look at things. One of my favorite childhood books was “Charlotte’s Web.” I realize now when I think about the book, that there were several things I learned from it. I realize now that there are different ways to solve problems, that people can be different but can still be friends and so much more. A book can help one through difficult times, Books may become obsolete due to technology according to this book. I hope not—I can’t imagine cuddling up with technology.

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Gives the history of books and how they changed in form and content through the years. There are also about ten different lessons listed which we can learn from books, referencing titles such as 'the Animal Farm, the Diary of a Young Girl, Alice in Wonderland, the Pillow Book, and more. I agreed with some of what was said, but there were other things that seemed politically correct or anti Christian. The writers acknowledged the Bible, but only as a book by which Christians lived. In the same way, they referenced a Muslim book, praising its helpful daily guidance and advice. They also said that man has two sides to him, one side that is good and another side hidden deep inside of him. The hidden side is often caused by 'no fault of his own, but by what the world has done to him.' Therefore we should " be kind to our inner self." Evolution(billions of years, prehistorical man) are referenced several times.
In a picture of Cinderella and her stepsisters, one stepsister is black, one is Japanese, and Cinderella herself is white. Though paying tribute to all skin tones, this picture does not really make sense.
At one point, it is hinted that books may eventually go away entirely, replaced by technology and television. The end of the book is a list of different technological books the writers would like to invent. The technology for some of these ideas is apparently under investigation right now. One idea is for a book that knows what you are going through and writes a book with a plotline similar to your daily life. The story is written to help you and give you advice. Another idea is if you have questions about the story, you have only to speak to the book and an answer will be given.
That said, I don't think I will be reading this book again, nor will I be recommending it.
Thank you to Net Galley for the chance to review this book before its publication date.

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I didn’t realise this was a children’s book but once I started reading it I didn’t care. It’s fascinating! Starts with the history of books, how they were made, how they’ve developed and the ways they’ve changed. Loads of good stuff in there. Then they talk about specific books and how they have ‘lessons’ for the reader. The choices are wide and varied - The Little Prince, Anne Frank, Confucius. There’s information about how fairy tales pre-Disneyfication had a moral and allowed parents to guide their kids through difficult times.

This is a clever, well put together deeply moving look at the way books can influence us and change lives.

Recommended if you have intelligent children who love books. Or kids who are not sure about reading and need encouraging. Something for everyone in here.

I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley.

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A very interesting book that tells a lot about the history of things. I like that the stories are short but you get well informed about the things they come up with. The writing style is easy to read and very understandable. The pictures in the book are also very nice with the stories.

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As someone obsessed with literature, this book feels very enjoyable to read. The picture was also pleasant to see and a great companion to the book content.
This book is great for middle-grade children and adults who accompany them to read together. There are some book recommendation as well for future references.
Thank you Net Galley and The School of Life for e-copy for Big Ideas from Literature. I'm looking forward for the next book in the series.

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This was a fascinating read about the role that literature has played and will continue to play in our lives. I thoroughly enjoyed the first section about the history of books and the written word linked to different historical time periods. I love the idea of book being like friends.

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I thought this would be about specific books, but it's about how books came to be and why they're important. At the end, there is even speculation about how books can be tailored to meet our needs even better in the future.
Books help us think about big ideas, they help us grow, and they offer support and friendship.
This book is well written so that a middle schooler could learn about all these ideas, and the illustrations are bright and reflective of literary ideas.
Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this

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This is my first experience of The School of Life, what a wonderful concept.

I only scan read this one before handing over to my 9 year old who devoured it. She is an avid bookworm and so many facets of this book appealed to her. She loved reading about the invention of literature and tracing its history and the book gave her tools to understand, on a deeper level, some of her favourite novels whilst also providing her with a new reading list of books she hopes to read and helping the Christmas list in the process.

Definitely one I will purchase upon publication as I know it will be returned to again and again and I am going to look for the previous books from The School of Life.

A huge thumbs up and recommendation from my daughter for anybody who loves reading.

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Bibliotherapy is not a new medium for therapeutic care but can sometimes still be met with a sideways glance. School of Life’s most recent publication, Big Ideas from Literature, is the resource I have been pining for since beginning to use bibliotherapy in practice. This book lays out the important role literature plays in our development of emotional vocabulary, communication, and affect regulation. While the word “bibliotherapy” never appears in the book, each chapter helps illustrate the powerful role of the written word. I’m a BIG BIG fan of this publishing house and Big Ideas from Literature only solidifies my feelings on the matter!

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