A simply fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read, Fairy Tale Wisdom: Stories for the Second Half of Life is an extraordinary approach to appreciate the applicability of traditional fairytales and folklore to the latter stages of life. Fairy Tale Wisdom is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Gerontology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.”

Julie Summers, Midwest Book Review

Fairy Tale Wisdom contains the personal reflections of three sensitive and intelligent people on a few of the great stories. They put themselves into the tales, or put the tales in them, and offer ways to both appreciate important narratives and make sense of your life, especially as you grow older. I like most the sincere probing that goes on in the reflections of these extraordinary authors.”  

Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and Soul Therapy

“Fairy Tale Wisdom is a refreshing, new and practical approach to traditional stories for children. Now as elders, the authors return to the tales that deeply affected them in childhood, from ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ to ‘the Prodigal Son,’ and reflect on the evolving impact that the tales had on them. Their comments move from personal history to the perennial questions that inevitably arise, such as the meaning of tragedy and chance in life. Their approach invites sharing with other people and would be invaluable in seminars and workshops.”

Allan Chinen, M.D., author of In the Ever After, Once Upon a Midlife, and Beyond the Hero

“This revelation of a book invites us to view the narratives that formed us in childhood through the lens of maturity. What a pleasure to think with these three old souls about how life has changed us and what matters to us most now. An at once important and fun contribution to the conscious aging genre.”

Carol Orsborn, Ph.D., author of The Making of an Old Soul

“Fairy tales are for all of us. I am simply thrilled by your book and can’t wait to share some of the stories with our granddaughters. Fairy Tale Wisdom is an indispensable contribution to this field of work.”

Harry (Rick) Moody, Ph. D., retired VP for Academic Affairs, AARP

“This unique and delightful book challenges the reader to pack a bag full of familiar tales and plot lines and travel into the turbulent currents of time’s quaint stream. Reading it, I became an active traveler who, along with the three writers, found myself navigating, reinterpreting and reimagining the intersections of stories and self over a lifetime. It’s not a book that tells you how to achieve growth and wisdom through age but that brings you along for the ride.”   

Kate de Medeiros, Ph.D., author of Narrative Gerontology in Research and Practice

“After reading Fairy Tale Wisdom, I doubt you’ll see your life or fairy tales in the same way again. Bill, Barbara and Andrew engage us in an abundantly creative journey back to the stories, fables and tales of our youth, inviting us to reexamine the unique meanings they can hold in later life. Coming from different personal and professional backgrounds, the authors’ mutual love of and belief in the power of stories to enrich and shape our lives shines through every page. Deeply personal, illuminating the wisdom of each author as they reflect on their chosen tales, you’ll find guideposts to help you mine your own stories and forge new directions on the inward adventure of aging. Poignant yet playful, this is a beautifully written, evocative book that you can and should pull from your shelf again and again. It is a wonderful meditation on the art of growing older and proof that fairy tales are truly for children of all ages!”

Karen Skerrett, Ph.D., Psychologist, Consultant, and author of Growing Married

“Like Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment and other notable forays into the world of make-believe, Fairy Tale Wisdom seeks to discern the meaning and significance of such fanciful stories for the lives of readers. In this case, though, the target readers are elders rather than children, and the purpose is nothing less than seeing in fairy tales, fables, and biblical parables an untapped source of wisdom about the ‘adventure’ of aging.  An inspiring, fanciful, and most valuable new resource for exploring later life, Fairy Tale Wisdom is, in the authors’ words, ‘a way to the light’ and thereby serves as an important counterweight to those images of darkness and decline that so often characterize the process of growing old.”  

Mark Freeman, Ph.D., author of Hindsight: The Promise and Peril of Looking Backward

“This delightful, creative book is both playful and deeply wise. It invites you to spend time in the company of three insightful older individuals who are imaginatively reconsidering the meanings of fairy tales and fables that they remember hearing as children. Together, they explore how the messages of these tales played out in their own lives and in their understanding of what it means to grow up and grow old. The authors regard aging as an intriguing adventure and a vantage point from which to think of one’s life in its essential – and mythic – terms. Have you, for instance, been a tortoise or a hare? This book will invite you to consider your own life stories in new ways, much like an intense conversation with old friends.”

Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., author of Narrative and Cultural Humility

“This is a fascinating journey, through the lens of childhood fairy tales, from a soulful exploration of the authors’ life stories to the potential wisdom of later life.”

Gary Irwin-Kenyon, Ph.D., author of Pathways to Stillness

“Convene three septuagenarians, two of whom throughout their scholarly lives as gerontologists concerned themselves with the narrative self in the second half of a lifetime, who decide to revise some of the moral tales that informed their earlier lives, and you have an intriguing prospect. In the words of Nick Thompson, an Apache elder: ‘This is what we know about our stories. They go to work on your mind and make you think about your life.’ Nothing could more aptly describe how each author thinks about their lives from the perspective they share — their seniority. As a septuagenarian myself, their text guided me to similar ruminations.”

David Epston, co-author of Reimagining Narrative Therapy through Practice Stories and Autoethnography

Fairy Tale Wisdom is a generous invitation to reimagine many of the stories we heard growing up with a deeper, more contemplative posture. Randall, Lewis, and Achenbaum unveil their curiosities and interpretations surrounding these classic tales with vulnerability, grace, and humility.  Simultaneously, they extend a gentle permission to the reader to consider their own lived experiences alongside the lessons hidden within these tales. I’m immensely grateful for the invitations, wisdom, and care the authors offer us in these pages as we each reflect upon these stories and navigate our own journey as a fellow traveler.”

Holly K. Oxhandler, Ph.D., LMSW, Associate Dean at Baylor University’s Garland School of Social Work and author of The Soul of the Helper

“This extraordinary book is insightful, moving, full of wisdom and amusing, all at the same time. Three masters of the human spirit and of words alike invite us to join their playful – yet extremely profound – inner adventure, demonstrating marvelously the inspirational power of stories in the never-ending process of growing old, rather than getting old.”

Gabriela Spector-Mersel, Ph.D., School of Social Work, Sapir College, Israel

“This is a book for anyone who loves fairy tales and who wonders about how the stories we grow up with relate to the lives we live. Being led by consummate explorers of later life, the reader is guided through a range of imaginative tales, and along the journey examines ongoing layers of the meaning of life, nestled in our sense of  who we are and who we are becoming.”   

Molly Andrews, Ph.D., author of Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life