Steeped in Stories

Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls

Steeped in Stories

Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls

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The stories we read as children shape us for the rest of our lives. But it is never too late to discover that transformative spark of hope that children's classics can ignite within us.

Award-winning children's author Mitali Perkins grew up steeped in stories--escaping into her books on the fire escape of a Flushing apartment building and, later, finding solace in them as she navigated between the cultures of her suburban California school and her Bengali heritage at home. Now Perkins invites us to explore the promise of seven timeless children's novels for adults living in uncertain times: stories that provide mirrors to our innermost selves and open windows to other worlds.

Blending personal narrative, accessible literary criticism, and spiritual and moral formation, Perkins delves into novels by Louisa May Alcott, C. S. Lewis, L. M. Montgomery, Frances Hodgson Burnett, and other literary "uncles" and "aunts" that illuminate the virtuous, abundant life we still desire. These novels are not perfect, and Perkins honestly assesses their critical frailties and flaws related to race, culture, and power. Yet reading or rereading these books as adults can help us build virtue, unmask our vices, and restore our hope. 

Reconnecting with these stories from childhood isn't merely nostalgia. In an era of uncertainty and despair, they lighten our load and bring us much-needed hope.


"Mitali Perkins's winsome way with words seeps through every page of this useful guide that's so much more than a guide. Her love of classic writing, even with all its flaws, serves as a compass for us to navigate the ins and outs of timeless stories so that they do more than entertain our modern craving for amusement."

Tsh Oxenreider, author of At Home in the World and Shadow and Light

"Steeped in Stories is a timely exploration of timeless classics, clear-eyed about cultural blind spots, yet still enchanted by the wisdom, beauty, and wonder of these marvelous stories. This is one of the most brilliant guides to children's literature I've read."

Karen Swallow Prior, professor and author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books

"Beautifully crafted, carefully researched, Steeped in Stories is a requisite immersion for all who enter the domain of children's literature."

Rita Williams-García, New York Times-bestselling author and three-time National Book Award finalist

"Stories have always been a place to escape when the world is overwhelming, and we need their refuge now more than ever. Mitali Perkins has given us such a gift in this collection."

Jennifer Fulwiler, standup comic and bestselling author of Your Blue Flame

"Required reading for anyone who deigns to proffer an opinion on children's books written long ago."

Betsy Bird, author, librarian, reviewer, and coauthor of Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature

"The best critics are those who inspire us to read more; Mitali Perkins has long been one of my favorite thinkers in the children's book world. Steeped in Stories is giving me to see how her deep faith informs her secular reading."

Roger Sutton, editor in chief, The Horn Book

"Savor this feast of storytelling and be refreshed!"

Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary

"Mitali Perkins is both a thoughtful storyteller and a wise guide who models how to mine for riches while recognizing the fool's gold in these beloved childhood classics."

Sarah Arthur, author of A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time

"This book is a pure delight and a fierce testament to the power of stories to instruct and beguile. Perkins affectionately invites us to rediscover the virtues of the classics, while at the same time challenging us to think critically about their flaws."

Léna Roy, director of teen programs at Writopia Lab and coauthor of Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters

"Steeped in Stories beautifully uncovers for readers how healing and helpful reading children's classics can be at any age, stage, or season of life."

Keri Wilt, writer, speaker, podcast host, and great-great-granddaughter of Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author of The Secret Garden


"Ms. Perkins is at her best when in­ter­pret­ing and prais­ing the books she loves, and her personal anec­dotes are a delight."
Wall Street Journal

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9781506469102
  • eBook ISBN 9781506469119
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 7.5
  • Pages 240
  • Publication Date August 31, 2021