What can we learn about the nature of love from books, especially from old classics? Love really is everywhere, and love in fiction isn’t just romantic love for girls only. All cultures have created beautiful and heartbreaking stories either to talk about the happiness and the mysteries of love, or to relieve our pain and suffering, trying to find answers to why and how we love.
Activity idea: All sorts of love
Let’s do a quick brainstorm activity to think about different types of love – you can also do it as a warm-up activity before a reading session with your young adult students. Write ‘love’ on your whiteboard and ask your students to play a free association game and find collocations with the word ‘love’.
There’s romantic love, unconditional love, conditional love, tough love, puppy love, cupboard love, paternal and maternal love, sisterly and brotherly love, companionate love, narcissistic or self-love, compassionate love, unfulfilled love, and then there is infatuation and there are love-hate relationships.
Love is not an easy subject, but it is most definitely one of the most entertaining and exciting ones. We haven’t travelled far since Plato’s Symposium where we read in Aristophanes’ speech the following famous quote: ‘We human beings will never attain happiness unless we find perfect love, unless we each come across the love of our lives and thereby recover our original nature.’
We have responded in thousands of ways to this pursuit in literature, trying to make sense of love by telling stories of it. Think about courtly love, love in the Bible, and the most famous myths of love: Tristan and Isolde, Pygmalion and Galatea, Narcissus and Echo, Don Juan and Romeo and Juliet. The contemporary rewritings and film adaptations of these stories are immediate success stories, proving that these are evergreen stories and our relationships have hardly changed.
Choose (and let your students choose) from these titles from the Helbling Readers catalogue for Valentine’s Day. Talk about and read them with your students. We are sure everyone will find a title that reflects an aspect of love they are really interested in.
In this selection you can see original Helbling Readers stories.