I am unabashedly drawn to children’s books. Chances are, if you spy me at Barnes & Noble, I’ll appear a formidable hunter in the Children’s section as I ravenously prey upon my next acquisition. I really cannot
admit, disclose, say for certain just how many children’s books occupy the stash within my home. Surely, you may think… it only goes without saying they exist merely for your nieces/nephews and/or grandchildren, correct? Would you assert this despite many of them having occupied their place on the bookshelf longer than any of those children have been alive?
Facts be known, I still possess my very own Dr. Suess books from childhood, along with several others like ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and ‘Charlotte’s Web” just to name a couple. Add to that, plenty more which line the bookcase having been procured as an adult… of 40+. I get a huge kick out reading them with kids… and even with a few of my adult friends who share my fondness for ‘The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘Fancy Nancy’. Entering our early (and fabulous I might add) 50’s, we still love sprinkles and sophisticated words such as ‘splendiferous’!
Lately, I’m posing questions to myself relative to this affinity of mine… “Why am I so enamored with their content?” “What is it about them that charms me so?” While certainly attracted to clever titles and book covers with artful illustrations, there’s just got to be more. Covers are mere invitations which weave the web of enticement so I pick up a book in the first place… or as in my case, while surveilling shelves it seems almost genie-like how a storybook leaps right off the shelf and into my hands! Before I realize it, I’m being wrapped in a web of sticky silk as I’m held spellbound by its features. I’m particularly wooed by a great message which is either overtly or surprisingly revealed and what comes next is my Visa card. Yep, I definitely qualify for one of those stamps… you know the ones – “from the library of” – just wrap my hair in a bun, pop on one of those necklace chains to hold my reading spectacles close to my bosom and Dewey Decimal here I come!
So what is this pixie dust within the binding of a great children’s book which an adult can find most bewitching?
Within the movie ‘You’ve Got Mail’, Kathleen Kelly, owner & shopkeeper of the bookstore ‘Little Shop Around the Corner’ is conversing with customer, Joe Fox as she reminiscently describes her mother’s love for books and how when her mother ran the store she was “helping people become who they’ll be”. As she expounds, she so confidently remarks:
“When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way like no other reading in your whole life does”.
I suppose that’s true… and I believe the statement is more profound than I’m able to decipher. It most certainly explains my tendency toward loving rhymes and wacky words!
Overall, I would attribute it to how impressionable we are as children. As little tikes, we are pliable, trusting, and innocent absorbing the world with curiosity… so it would stand to reason we are open in a completely different way which shapes our being based on what enters our filter. As we age, our education and life experiences taint our views. Our creativity diminishes as we are instructed to color inside the lines and our life-lessons make us naturally suspicious and wary.
C.S. Lewis said:
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”
By golly, I believe he hit the mark! I strive to retain my child-like wonder and claim the fun which naturally occurs as a by-product. I think Lewis made a good point in that when I choose to read a children’s selection, I’m seeking to step back into the shoes of childhood whilst reading the stories from an adult perspective. If the author can enthrall me while devoid of my youth, yet beckoning me back into the innocence of my early years while simultaneously appealing to me where I stand today… then the book has captured a dual audience in both child and older person.
Additionally, I have favorable regard for a book which has the ability to transport me back in time through a boyhood/girlhood story – yet reaffirm wisdom I’ve gained influencing me to revisit the thought, idea or precept. For example, from The Velveteen Rabbit by M. Williams:
Or from one of my early favorite authors, Dr. Suess:
And lastly, this one from Roald Dahl in his authorship of ‘The Minpins’:
There is priceless wisdom in those powerful lines!!
Perhaps being gently reminded of life’s values through a great children’s story allows us to escape the world for a bit while it affectionately tucks another wisdom nugget into our back pocket for solid retrieval when we need to face the world with glittering eyes.
Do you have a favorite children’s book? What’s your take?
You captured my sentiments exactly! Children’s books have a special place in my heart and my home. Anything that transforms me back to a simpler and happy time. I can remember as a child going down to the book shelf in our lower room and gathering 6-8 books to take them to bed. As I ascended the stairs to my bedroom, i was escaping to a world that was magical and all mine. Some of my favorite memories as a child are those i spent reading in front of an open window. I can still feel the cold breeze blowing in when our attic fan was on. Thanks for taking me back.
Hey Fancy Nancy! Very much appreciate your feedback! I’m ecstatic I could take you back for a time and especially if it rendered such sweet sentimentality! I’m all for a good ‘ole storybook read with my side-kick any time. Speaking of stories, Halloween is nearing… you must pull out that Black Witch book (apologies – cannot recall the proper Title) and read to us in your witchy tones. BTW, so interesting how Samhain has evolved into Halloween from the time the Celts brought it to America – so much the same in many ways and yet so much very different.
YES!!!! Yet another reason we connect! True confession…The only book I have read since moving to the island, last summer, is my tatered childhood copy of Winnie the Pooh. The wisdom shared in certain children’s books is delightful. I can’t get enough. They are refreshing and pure. Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little are two of my favorites.
Becca! Makes my heart sing! I knew we were kindred souls after reading all your blog entries and viewing your photos for the first time. You so wonderfully captured those ‘moments’ of beauty I love about Beaver Island… those places and scenes which many pass right by – like the area on East Side Drive near Welke Airport. It takes a certain person to take pause and observe the extraordinary… to seek and find wonder in the littlest of things but so extraordinarily missed by others. BTW, A.A. Milne is one of my very favorites and the illustrations whisk me off into “the wood”.
How to describe oneself is not an easy task despite the fact I often hear I have a penchant for writing. To try and encapsulate myself into a few sentences is challenging at best since I am filled with a heart for constant curiosity and the desire to keep learning. I take great delight in most all outdoor activities... especially those which involve hiking or being around the water. Camping in our pop-up or in a tent is always an invitation to discovery which I cannot turn down. A 'memory collector' is how I'd label myself, largely because I have this unending zest for life... I don't want to miss a thing! I love surprises, love to laugh and I get the biggest kick out of being married. I adore animals and my favorite happens to be a precious Golden Doodle named Zoe who came into my life as my 40th birthday present and has been the biggest gift that keeps on giving!! Sunflowers make me instantly smile and traveling makes my heart pound with excitement. Fortunate and very blessed to have traveled many places, my all-time favorite is the land of my ancestors, Ireland. Ireland calls me by name and beckons me to exploration like no other place I've been. And speaking of that, researching my ancestry has been a fun endeavor which often takes me down rabbit hole after rabbit hole as I seek to unveil mysteries of the past. Hanging out or traveling with friends is another area which I derive great joy from... and purposely nurturing friendships through cooking meals, entertaining or planning events gets my creative juices flowing. Once again.... it's that making memories thing! Beyond that, I could list a thousand things I find interesting, stimulating and feel so blessed to experience, indulge or simply wish for the day I get to investigate with a feverish glee. That's me!