Project Description

Living By Wonder: The Imaginative Life of Childhood

By Richard Lewis
Parabola Books / Touchstone Center Publications, 1998

In this group of twenty essays, spanning over two decades of work with children and adults, Richard Lewis looks at the life of the imagination of childhood. Exploring various facets of children’s play, art, stories, poetry and language-making each of these essays attests to the importance of nurturing and supporting the imagination as a necessary part of all learning. Addressed to anyone concerned with the emotional, spiritual and intellectual life of childhood, Living By Wonder is a compelling and timely statement.

150 pages • hardcover • $18.95 • Order Form

150 pages • paperbound • $12.00 • Order Form



Part One: The Languages of Childhood

Making a Language of Childhood

The Wind of The Marigold

The First Question of All

Infant Joy

Trying On A Hat

Part Two: Learnings and Rememberings

The Pulse of Learning

The Child’s Remembering

Acting Out Daydreams

The Story The Child Keeps

Part Three: The Solitary Voice

Children and Their Solitude

A Season for Listening

Emily’s Tree

The Speaking of Rainbows

Part Four: Within Nature

The Blossom Shaping

A Single Branch Will Do

The Creatures They Are

The Deep Water Had Deeper Fishes

Part Five: Being Alive

The Dancing Child

Time Is a Child Playing

Living By Wonder

Richard Lewis knows kids already have imagination – in contrast to the many well-intentioned teachers who seem to think it has to be (and can be) instilled into them by formulaic exercises which only result in a jokey, false surrealism. Granted imagination can be squashed and almost wiped out, and may need to be restimulated even at an early age; but children should not be taught to identify poetry with verbal clowning. Such teachers need to absorb Lewis’ respect and high expectations for a child’s inner life and expressive capacities; it is clearly his attitude that has elicited so many remarkable poems from children of different ages, many living in grim inner-city neighborhoods. His work should be required reading for teachers and parents.

—Denise Levertov, poet and essayist, author of O Taste and See

Throughout this marvelous collection, the author leads us by example with his sensitive, softly embroidered prose, modeling a reverence for the unfolding of a child’s intelligence that is fast being buried under an avalanche of hype and hysteria concerning educational goals and standards…..A stirring defense of the wonder that is the birthright of every child. – Chris Mercolgiano, teacher and author of Teaching the Restless

The language of poetry is Lewis’ medium, and….he places poems by well known masters with the writings of his students, making no distinction between them, illustrating the richness of children’s interior worlds.

—Lynn Neuman, Lincoln Center Institute