Ray Petersen –
If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
A A Milne, creator of ‘Winnie the Pooh’, has been credited with this sound, reassuring advice, offered to Pooh by Christopher Robin, but apparently this impeccably crafted dialogue was written by a Disney screenwriter for a 1997 movie that was so bad, it went straight to video release. Anyway, the thing is that while it’s sentimental, saccharine and schmaltzy, it’s not a bad thought, is it? Not a bad philosophy.
Kid’s books, based on the philosophy that they should have moral strength, and a tradition, since Aesop’s famous fables, of telling how things should be and offering remarkably concise life lessons, are in many ways a beacon for good parenting.
Jane Yolen wrote that children’s books change lives, that the stories roll off the pages and into their hearts, making children what they, eventually, become. She was supported by multiple award-winning author, Catherynne M Valente, who wrote, “A book is a door you know, always and forever,” it is a door into another place, another heart and another world. In doing so, she perhaps had the amazing Lewis Carrol, of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fame, who had his heroine, Alice, ponder that, “It is no use to go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
We are all different today to what, and who, we were yesterday and one of the most difficult parenting tasks is to stay relevant to their children, and where they are in their lives, especially in big families. However, ensuring that your children can read, and you taking an interest in what they read, is a sure way to develop your children’s personalities, willingness to interact with others and converse effectively, at a higher level than simply conversationally so.
C S Lewis, of ‘Narnia’ fame said, “A children’s story, that is only enjoyed by children, is a bad children’s story,” in referring to the need for ‘us adults’ to be getting something out of a story to ensure that our enjoyment of it, and learning from it, is clear and obvious to the children. What they see, what they hear, and what they enjoy about good stories, is so often that they are doing it ‘with you,’ and you are both having fun.
“There are a whole lot of things you haven’t started wondering about yet,” offered the amazing Roald Dahl, inspiring active minds, and we can take strength too from Lewis, again, who wrote that “what we see depends very much upon where we are standing,” and what sort of person we are being, from that perspective. In saying this, I believe he is encouraging us to be involved in the literary experiences of our children, and to be very aware of how they will see us.
Their perception of us too, is developed through the literary interaction, as our care for what they are reading, the enthusiasm for what they are learning, and our passion for their holistic learning experience is both evident and real.
Taking the words of centuries, to encourage parents to share books, reading, and the joy of reading and learning, let me say that to a child, there are more than seven wonders of the world, everything is a wonder. We need to be their partners as they discover and reveal, who and what they are, otherwise, why do this thing?
Take a magical, mystery tour with your kids, for maybe Dr Seuss was right when he said, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back, relax, all you need is a book.”