These are unusual times, and there is evidence that people are thinking in creative ways about how to live big in small spaces. J.K. Rowling, for example, has waived any licensing concerns that might arise by teachers reading her books online or recording sections dramatized or read.
Delighted to help teachers reach kids at home by relaxing the usual licence required to post videos of themselves reading Harry Potter books. Go to https://t.co/77d90pkiYK to find the guidelines. Be well, everyone. More soon! 💫#HarryPotterAtHome
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) March 20, 2020
A nice gesture–though I imagine Scholastic would suffer for suing Mrs. Fabula from Utopia, NY, reading about Harry’s life beneath the stairs to her 5th graders! But Rowling has certainly caught the moment.
I suspect there are dozens of examples like this, but one other I’d like to point out is a nice invitation by Audible (in the US and Canada, but perhaps elsewhere). As long as there is a disruption of school, they are streaming a few hundred resources for kids and eager teens.
You can click here for the full catalogue, but some audiobooks are noteworthy. Among these are Edith Nesbit’s The Enchanted Castle, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, James Stephens’ collection of Irish Fairy Tales, Scarlett Johansson reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World, and Franz Kafka‘s The Metamorphosis (though if you can find the Benedict Cumberbatch reading, it’s brilliant). All of these are free for streaming on the Audible website or app.
Brilliantly, there are three C.S. Lewis books also included in the educational stream, each read professionally by Ralph Cosham.
It is not an overstatement to say that C.S. Lewis‘ career was launched by The Screwtape Letters–a witty, upside-down look at spiritual life through the eyes of those most invested in seeing humans falter. Though I prefer John Cleese’s hard-to-get Grammy-nominated reading of Screwtape, Ralph Cosham’s reading is a great way to hear the Letters in a fresh new way.
This is a book I reread every summer. My rereading cycle began because as much as I loved the story–and it is C.S. Lewis’ conversion story, filled with home anecdotes and connections to his past–it is also a philosophy of Joy, or Sehnsucht. I still appreciate Surprised by Joy for its humorous and strangely edited history of Lewis’ life, but the idea of Joy and longing has been slowly seeping into my soul.
C.S. Lewis’ memoir of loss at the passing of his wife, Joy Davidman, remains one of the most powerful books of its kind. I have lectured on it and blogged about it, linking my own story of grief with Lewis’ story. Perhaps you can do so too, and these are moments in culture where it is good to take stock of what we believe and who is important to us.