A short novel by Charlotte Perkins Gillman about a utopian community of
women and their children. The story involves the discovery of a new country by three
men and their exploration of it. This new country, Herland, is composed entirely of women
and children and is entirely dedicated to the raising of its children. A quote follows:
You are but men, three men, in a country where the whole population
are mothers-- or are going to be. Motherhood means to us something which I cannot yet
discover in any of the countries of which you tell us. You have spoken"--she turned
to Jeff, "of Human Brotherhood as a great idea among you, but even that I judge is
far from a practical expression?"
Jeff nodded rather sadly. "Very far--" he said.
"Here we have Human Motherhood--in full working use," she
went on. "Nothing else except the literal sisterhood of our origin, and the far
higher and deeper union of our social growth.
The Education of
Little Tree by Forrest Carter. This little
book, narrated by a little boy, Little Tree, details his
childhood as he is raised by his grandparents. The book does not describe any
particular method of parenting just parenting that is beautiful. Click above to read an
excerpt (the first chapter).
The Iliad by Homer:
Hector to his wife and son
In Homer's story of the fall of troy to the Greeks,
Hector, the son of Priam the ruler of Troy, is married to Andromache who worries about her
husband, her son by him and for the doomed city of Troy. She says to her husband,
"Your strength will be your destruction and you have no pity either for your infant
son or for your unhappy wife who will soon be your widow. For soon the Acheans will set
upon you and kill you; and if I lose you it would be better for me to die." Her
Well do I know this, and I am sure of it: that day is
coming when the holy city of Troy will perish, and Priam and the people of wealthy Priam.
But my grief is not so much for the Trojans, not for Hecuba herself, not for Priam the
King, nor for my many noble brothers, who will be slain by the foe and lie in the dust, as
for you, when one of the bronze-clad Acheans will carry you away in tears and end your
days of freedom. Then you may live in Argos, and work at the loom in another woman's
house, or perhaps carry water for a woman of Messene or Hyperia, sore against your will:
but hard compulsion will lie upon you. And then a man will say as he sees you weeping,
"This was the wife of Hector, noblest in battle of the horse-taming Trojans, when
they were fighting around Ilion." This is what they will say: and it will be fresh
grief to you. to fight against slavery bereft of a husband like that. But may I be dead,
may the earth be heaped over my grave before I hear your cries, and of the violence done
So spake shining Hector and he held out his
arms to his son. But the child screamed and sunk back into the bosom of the well-girdled
nurse, for he took fright at the sight of his dear father - at the bronze and the crest of
the horse-hair which he saw swaying terribly from the top of the helmet. His father
laughed aloud, and his lady mother too. At once shining Hector took the helmet off his
head and laid it on the ground, and when he had kissed his dear son and dandled him in his
arms, he prayed to Zeus and the other Gods: Zeus and ye other Gods, grant that this my son
may be, as I am, most glorious among the Trojans and a man of might, and greatly rule in
Ilion. And may they say, as he returns from war, "he is far better than his
the story of Iphigenia the Greek fleet is ready to set sail to go to war with
Troy. Bad weather traps the fleet in its harbor at Aulis so Agamemnon, a leading
figure among the generals of the fleet and Iphigenia's father, consults an oracle.
The oracle declares that the gods are offended and that only the sacrifice of
Iphenigea will permit the fleet to leave. Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter and
goes to war. Here are several lines from the play whose theme centers on the effect,
on the child, of parental participation in business and commerce.
AGAMEMNON I envy thee, old man, aye, and every man who leads a
life secure, unknown and unrenowned; but little I envy those in office.
ATTENDANT And yet 'tis there we place the be-all and end-all
AGAMEMNON Aye, but that is where the danger comes; and
ambition, sweet though it seems, brings sorrow with its near approach. ...
Agamemnon is not opposed in his grim decision
except by his wife, Clytaemnestra, and by Iphigenia's suitor Achilles.
ACHILLES: They say her sacrifice is necessary.
CLYTAEMNESTRA: And is there no one to say a word against them?
ACHILLES: Indeed I was in some danger myself from the tumult.
CLYTAEMNESTRA: In danger of what? kind sir.
ACHILLES: Of being stoned.
CLYTAEMNESTRA: Surely not for trying to save my daughter?
ACHILLES: The very reason.
CLYTAEMNESTRA: Who would have dared to lay a finger on thee?
ACHILLES: The men of Hellas, one and all.
A short story by Ingabold Bachmann about a father's
growing sense of the importance of his child and of the loss of that child. Here
is a quotation from the story:
I began to look at everything in relation to the child. My hands, for
instance, which would some day touch and hold it, our third-floor apartment, the
Kandlgasse, the VII District, the ways that one could take criss-cross through the town
right down to the Prater Meadows, and finally the whole world, with all thats in it,
which I would explain to the child
The Ransom of Red Chief by
O"Henry. A short comedy of the kidnapping of a little boy who turns out to
be more than his captives can handle. A quote from the story:
Yes, sir, that boy seemed to be having the time of his life. The fun
of camping out in a cave had made him forget that he was a captive himself. He immediately
christened me Snake-eye, the Spy, and announced that, when his braves returned from the
warpath, I was to be broiled at the stake at the rising of the sun.
A Child's Christmas in Wales by
Dylan Thomas. A short tale about a boy's Christmas eve spent at a relative's house:
It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs.
Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always
snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no
reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we
waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting
and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the
lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off
Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats
We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in
the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever since Wednesday - that we never
heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we
heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the
neighbor's polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
The Rocking Horse Winner
by D. H. Lawrence centers around a young boy and
his mother and the boy's wild rides on his rocking horse. An excerpt:
And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There
must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time
though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid
toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll's
house, a voice would start whispering: "There must be more money! There must be more
money!" And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment. They would look
into each other's eyes, to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the
other two that they too had heard. "There must be more money! There must be more
The Use of Force by William Carlos Williams
This short story, by an author who was himself a doctor, is
about a physicians visit to a home an an attempt to examine a little girl who is afraid of
him and furiously resists having her throat examined.
I had to smile to myself. After all, I had already fallen in love
with the savage brat, the parents were contemptible to me. In the ensuing struggle they
grew more and more abject, crushed, exhausted while she surely rose to magnificent heights
of insane fury of effort bred of her terror of me.
Letters to his children