How many of you as adults have re-read your favorite children’s books? I do this quite often and find cherished and treasured memories in many of the classic children’s books. I especially love the quintessential Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and all of the Nancy Drew mysteries (I was hooked in 5th and 6th grade, chain reading Nancy Drew mystery after mystery while feeding my chocolate obsessions with Hershey’s Kisses melting in my mouth at just that very high point in the story – that was heaven on earth!). A little later on, I couldn’t put down Judy Blume and Madeleine L’Engle. I idolized their characters as they took me to a different place in reality, just when I needed it most (the terrible teens). Well, I’m glad that’s over and I have the wisdom and reflection to look back on it all, while still cherishing the book memories and stories.

Two that I recently read include The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. There is great poetry in both of these cherished children’s works. The allegories and lessons are exemplary. The Velveteen Rabbit is one you could read with a child every week and learn something new or share a teachable moment with a child. Some immediate lessons include: appreciate what you have; appreciate the small things; the best things in life are not the most expensive; don’t throw it away; demonstrate multipurposeness; share the most important thing in life which is love. There are ecological and biological lessons here. As well as historical and medical lessons (scarlet fever for example).Talk to a child about this book and find out what are the most resonating messages. Are they the same for you? What do you share? Do you remember the same feelings? Ah, to think like a child again and to see the world through the innocence.

Several months ago, I realized I no longer had my childhood copy of The Velveteen Rabbit and I felt this was an important one to have in my collection. I happened to be going to the Boulder Bookstore and found a copy there, illustrated by Michael Hague. Another wonderful element of children’s books is often the illustrations. There can be such magical beauty in a picture. Sometimes pictures do speak a thousand words. But especially so when there are words to help carry the imagination even further.

As for The Little Prince, I also remember reading this with my mother or another family member as a small child. I remembered the fantastical pictures, the oddities of the prince and his travels, and the brevity of the words. What I did not remember was the power behind the brevity of the words. This is such a Zen book. Things are what they are (it is what it is) so why fight it? Almost every phrase can be a quote, or a study unto itself. Each chapter can be a study unto itself. It’s a lovely and sad book, filled with dreams and promises to be explored. It’s about a beautiful and innocent child, learning about the world around him. It’s a cautionary tale filled with rich symbolism and parables. The Little Prince too, has such teachable moments, for all ages. Covering all the topics from landscape conservation to humanism, to culture, class and psycho-social elements, as well as science, biology, and time-space continuum. I had an ah-ha moment: This is the book that made me fascinated with time and space travel!  This little book has broad implications and inferrences. It is both abstract and concrete. It is what it is and that’s what makes each of the lessons for each of the readers so powerful. Take a room full of people and have each one read The Little Prince and immediately after, ask what the impressions are. This could be a fascinating psychological study. Would there be epiphanies across the room? Small awakenings and realizations or major impacts? I think the responses would be incredible, perhaps much like the conversations encountered in Waking Life. It is what it is for each of us.

I was recently compelled to re-read The Little Prince after reading Laura Resau’s The Red Glass (an award winning YA novel – highly recommended for all ages of which I posted a blog entry on several months ago). Resau begins each of the chapters with a quote from The Little Prince. This is beautifully done and sets up the story with those teachable moments and memorable points. For a good resource on children’s book reviews, visit Curled Up With a Good Kids Book.

Whatever you’re reading, enjoy it and enjoy every moment in whatever you do. Now, go read some of your favorite childhood books and savor the memories, the lessons, the simplicity, the complexity, who you are now and where you came from. Happy Reading!

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