One of the greatest tragedies of adulthood is the loss of imagination. We grow up and take things at face value, gain a seriousness that is far too stiff, and lose the ability to see things in multiple lights. One of the greatest virtues of the child’s imagination is the ability to see POTENTIAL rather than limitations. Nothing is impossible to a child who has an active imagination.
As a part of my creative healing, and also partially out of simple love, I have taken to reading children’s stories. Who am I kidding? I’ve always read a lot of children’s stories. As an adult, I am met with a raised eyebrow from other adults. “You don’t have children, why are you reading this?” “Why don’t you read something that is more at your…level…your maturity?”
I have learned more about the heart of Jesus through reading Narnia and embracing the character of Aslan than I have through any theological classic ever written. I have learned about friendship and sacrifice and unconditional love through reading “The Wind in the Willows”, and how the animals of the Wild Wood look out for each other in their everyday struggles and adventures. I have truly learned the difference between the selfishness of being childish and the beauty of being childlike through reading “Peter Pan” and “The Little Prince”.
As adults, our imaginations get dull. We need refreshers. We need to see potential, to see a door to another land where only a wardrobe exists. To say “but of course!” when the offer is given to fly upon the back of the North Wind (from George MacDonald). To remember that the delighted running and playing of children is good for the soul of the adult as well! To remember the colors and sights and wonders of this world that our Father created instead of merely seeing the dull humdrum of our everyday.
I have a large stack of children’s literature that I am currently working through, but also a stack that I have read so many times that their pages are falling apart. It is an incredibly helpful practice to balance a serious, deep, heart-growing book with something that makes the eyes light up and the heart feel warm. What are some of your old favorites? What are some of the children’s stories you grew up on, and have read many many times, that still hold a place in your heart? There is great value in returning to them!
Among my own list there are:
Anything by Louisa May Alcott (Little Women, Little Men, An Old Fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom)
Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
The Little Prince, by Antoine du St. Exupery
Peter Pan, by JM Barrie
Anything by Kate DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, The Magician’s Elephant)
Anne of Green Gables, by LM Montgomery
The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
Ishmael, by Eden Southworth
The Day Boy and the Night Girl, by George MacDonald
The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald
The “To Be Read” stack includes:
A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline Le’Engle
The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin
At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald