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Most adult book lovers start as child story lovers. Their parents probably read them to sleep when they were little, and they probably stayed up late reading under the covers when they were a bit older. But what is it about those childhood stories that captured the imagination of story-loving children? Tatar (John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages & Literatures, Harvard Univ.; The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales) attempts to answer that question in this enchanting book. She examines many aspects of children's literature, from why we read children to sleep, to death and its role in children's stories, to the effect of words on young minds. Tatar uses the recollections of famous writers and readers (compiled in an engrossing appendix) as her source material to argue convincingly that children are drawn to stories not as a form of escape but as a way to understand and explore themselves and the world around them in a safe yet exciting way. Highly recommended for bibliophiles in public and academic libraries.