—Vivian Gussin Paley, Teacher and author of, among others, A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play; and forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Boy on the Beach
Teaching Toward Poetic and Imaginative Understanding In this collection of recent essays and reflections, Richard Lewis shares his pursuit of teaching as a means of deepening a child's poetic and imaginative understanding. He makes clear, through examples of his own teaching and the thoughts and writings of children, how much of what each child brings with them, as they play and imagine, dream and wonder, is a necessary and profound part of our human consciousness and creativity. And throughout he asks us to listen to the conversation each of us began in childhood, to the flight and stillness of our own imagining, to those understandings and learnings, in ourselves and in children, that continue to be the basis, the poetry, of who we are—and the nature we inhabit. "Poets and children are natural companions. The child dreams up worlds apart, without instruction, and the poet has never outgrown these childhood necessities. When Richard Lewis comes to visit, the classroom suddenly opens to a sky filled with celestial beings, and butterflies arrive to carry us to distant planets. It is but a short distance from the poet's imagery to a child's sense of joy and sadness, and we readers take flight with the children as they find the words that express their feelings. Once again, Mr. Lewis shows us the hidden world of childhood and makes us want to change our own classrooms into magical places."