Until I was about twenty one, I spent most of my life without television. Growing up, I was convinced this was a form of child abuse.
Though we did have a black and white TV for a few years when I was a kid, it sat in the corner with a cloth over it – a mostly forbidden delight.
My entertainment came in the form of records and books, and even then, the repertoire was limited to a revolving loop of favourites.
As I grew older, I practically learned by heart The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Devoured my way through Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and the Famous Five. Read, on repeat, a few classics, like Jane Eyre.
On the odd occasion, when the folks weren’t home, I’d sneak a peak at Disney’s cartoons. Though my favourite forbidden pleasure was those little possessed puppets down at Fraggle Rock.
Instead of wide, I learned to read deep – and, perhaps because my influences were so few, their impact stands out vividly.
As an adult, I’m clearly not over it. Ever since I became an aunt, I’ve found myself indulging my inner deprived child with things meant for much younger minds.
I spend hours in the kids’ section of bookstores, utterly breath taken and unable to choose.
People think I’m strange. Adults aren’t supposed to like this stuff. Right?
As we get older, we learn to put things in their place. Categorise and label our lives into neat unrelated boxes. Kids. Grownups. Play. Work. Fantasy. Reality.
There’s this prevailing view that to understand children, you must be a parent. As though adulthood automatically divorces us from our past.
When Maurice Sendak died, I read an article about his life and work. Of course, I can’t find the exact one now, but the part that struck me was the motivation behind his writing.
Pop psychology is always urging us to get in touch with our inner child. So if you ask me, reading children’s books is the perfect self-help therapy.
Allegorical tales cut through all the outer complications and connect with the inner emotional reality of our lives. They give form to demons that haunt our dreams. Help us to imagine ways to deal with them.
If in any doubt, do a Google search on ‘Inner Child’. There’s even an IMDb list made for “people whose inner child still exists”.
This is opposed to a search for ‘Adult Fairy Tales’ that will take the whole topic way beyond PG. But that’s beside the point.
Since I like to read them, and I also like to write them, in the coming weeks, I’ll be introducing you to some of the children’s stories that captivate my imagination.
I’m calling it self-help. You can call it research, and use your kids as an excuse if you prefer ;)
Do you like kids’ stories and fairy tales? What were your favourites as a child?
If you haven’t already, check out the first three e-books of the Hello Pepi Series – available at Amazon: