Once Upon a Child…

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.

There were Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime and Bible stories and the Little Golden Books.

Songs, like This Old Man and The Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly, that are still burned in my brain.

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.

Wall-E and Fraggle Rock  have somehow made it into my private DVD collection.

Then there are those CDs I meant to give my nephews and niece – Pure Imagination, by Michael Feinstein and, ahem, Schnappi und Seine Freunde.

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.

He never forgot what it was like to be a child.

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.

Pepi's First Things

Mona and Pepi – from Book 2 in the Hello Pepi Series

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:

Hello PepiPepi's First ThingsPepi Goes Parkies


  1. says

    No tv at all! That must have been difficult. As for being “strange”, I don’t like that word, because it makes it seem like there is something wrong with you. Everybody can be labeled as strange in one way or another. I read all of the Hardy Boys. They had bright covers on them and I often imagined I was going to solve mysteries on a warm summer day. (talk about strange) You are probably the best aunt in the world, so over indulge those nieces and/or nephews until they can’t take it any more. I can’t wait to read your children’s stories. (that is probably my inner child talking) Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Now that I’m older, I’m happy to own the label ‘strange’. In hindsight, there were many benefits to growing up without TV. As for imagining solving those mysteries – nothing strange in that at all!! I think we all wanted to be those characters… In fact, I’m pretty sure I went looking for mysteries that were not my business to solve 😉

      Hope your inner child enjoys the stories and thanks so much for your lovely comment! You made my day shine 🙂

  2. says

    Yes! I love reading with my girls. These days, children’s books are all I have time for. We love Orlando the Marmalade Cat and Tintin and Asterix and all of Maurice Sendak and Seuss and Little Lu Lu and Chi the cat and SkippyJohn Jones. I could go on and on. Right now, we’re in a audio book phase. My little one had a cold so we spent the day listening to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (unabridged). I’m grateful for these CDs because otherwise, I might lose my voice from all this reading.

      • says

        Mostly what my kids used to read and now my grandchild which is Donald and the Disney lot in the French version.
        It totally relaxes me, there’s not much to stimulate the brain and it gives the opportunity to unwind but it happens once in a while, the rest of the time I indulge in very well written books which are more the poetic, philosophical romances or biographies

      • says

        Wow… that would be so different as a comic and in French! So beautiful (and I can see how that would be relaxing). 🙂

        Indulge. That’s a fine way of describing a quality read. For me, it does feel like an indulgence these days, because it is regrettably rare.

      • says

        Yes, reading is indeed time consuming hence, the use of the word. I make time for it nevertheless on holidays and weekends when I’m lucky to find something up to my standard which doesn’t happen that often and as a last resort will get a magazine which is oriented toward history, culture and art.

  3. says

    You are certainly not strange to me. I love kids tales. I like to read them and I also like to watch DVDs. I like that everything is possible in children’s books and I also like the magic. I love Tintin and Asterix and Obelix. My favourite Disney character is Belle in the Beauty and the Beast. I like that she loved reading and that she was not afraid of the Beast! I’m looking forward to your series.

    • says

      Yes! One of the few theatre productions I’ve seen was Beauty and the Beast – way back when. I confess I loved it…

      You’re right, kids stories are filled with possibilities and magic. We could use a bit of that, right?

      (BTW, Books 4 and 5 are getting close now! It’s quite exciting 🙂 )

  4. says

    I’ll never outgrow fairy tales, my favorite is Sleeping Beauty. As far as kids’ books, my all-time favorites are Charlotte’s Web and Ferdinand and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. 🙂

  5. says

    Many books, tales and fables, tangible and audio. Growing up there were books through out the house, an old black and white valve TV, shortwave radio, old records that weighted a ton, the yard, and bush. With nieces, and nephews, I always find I need to keep up on the last stories getting around, so yes. Favourites, there were The Hardy Boys, The three investigators, c.s. forester books, numerous RL Stevenson (Black Arrow, TI, Kidnapped), numerous compendiums of fairy tales and fables, and many others.

  6. says

    I have to own up to depriving my children of TV. We lived in the country, and by the time they’ done their homework, walked their dogs, and finished their piano, flute and clarinet practice (which they had begged to learn), there was only time left to read aloud, and the whole family father, children and three dogs listened. We read anything from The Wind in the Willows to David Copperfield, Cranford, Animal Farm, and Doris Lessing’s Shikasta, which was the last one when my son was seventeen.
    We laughed, we cried, we had fun…TV was off the radar !!!
    Love the illustrations you showed us from the Pepi Dog series. Are you writing more???

    • says

      Oh Valerie! I actually believe that depriving kids of TV is probably a very kind thing to do in so many ways. There’s nothing that could ever compare to good times spent with family, engaging with good literature and the world around. That is priceless.

      I am working on the rest of the series… Books 4 and 5 are not far off, and the others will come. All will be revealed well before Christmas, is the plan!

  7. liz says

    i think that no tv growing up is an amazing feat! so awesome, and i wish that i could have more self-discipline when it comes to tv. i would most definitely be more creative. but, my wife is not a tv fan, so i have cut back drastically over the years. and i love it.

    as for the children’s book section in the book store. love it. i find myself there quite often. hehe. there is way too much good stuff to read or re-read as an adult. i understand things in such a different way now, when i return to a book of my childhood, and it offers me inspiration all over again.

    so excited about your books! and so impressed!

    • says

      Thank you Liz! You are of course right. It’s only been in later adulthood that I’ve come to appreciate the benefit of not having TV growing up. I guess the worst thing is missing out on the social dialogue… but really, that probably doesn’t compare to the mental freedom one has without it. (I live with a film junkie, so TV has become an unhealthy addiction.. though more DVD series these days, as you know!).

      It is great to rediscover the layers of meaning in kids books, huh?

  8. says

    So many books I loved as a kid! Little House on the Prairie and Nancy Drew. I also liked Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories and Grimm’s 12 dancing princesses. 🙂 Oh and I also loved TV, but when I was kid we didn’t have cable or a VCR, so there were only certain times when kids programming was on. It wasn’t on demand 24-7. 🙂

    • says

      It’s amazing how we’ve come to demand everything 24/7, hey? Nothing’s special anymore, it seems… Funny I never read the Praire books – that was one thing we were allowed to watch. Oh, and of course, Lassie 🙂

  9. WordsFallFromMyEyes says

    Oh Alarna, This is a choice choice post. Just love it. It’s before work for me & I played that whole ‘swallowed a fly’ clip. How so very gorgeous!

    I loved this, all of this nostalgia.

  10. says

    hello, Alarna… howdy! i have 23 nephews and nieces from seven married siblings, ahaha. i used to remember all of their birthdays… not anymore, my memory seem to have waned in the last three years. but most of them are fond of their tita (aunt), ahem, ahem, as I listen to their stories, lawyer for them often (in relation to their parents) and they like (they seem to) my stories. some of them are bigger than me now, ahaha. 🙂

    i remember that I took most of them to get their first haircut (without the company of parents) and their first movie. most of them turned hard-headed and stubborn, by the way, lol.

    am not used to watching tv myself but am fond of the big screen. most people still think am strange, ahaha. hope things are well – the adult and the inner child, hehe. regards. 🙂

    • says

      San! That’s quite a number of little ones to dote on as they grow up 🙂 I’m sure you have spoiled them well, and they have many fond memories of your care for them.

      Especially, I love that you took them to their first movie. That’s something to be treasured.

      I’d love to have more of a role as an Aunt, but distance and family politics play their toll. Still – there are some great memories in there already 😉

      Thanks for visiting!

      • says

        hello, Alarna… am afraid there are too many of them, ahaha. there are nine siblings – what to do? at least, most of my siblings did not do as our parents, haha. they know too well how hard it is to parcel out resources, energy and attention to sooo many children, hehe. 😉

        a, yes, am close to most of the nieces and nephews (when i see them). i spoil and admonish them, when necessary.

        i like what you said about family politics coming into play. yes, am afraid that does happen, huh? 🙂

        glad to visit, always. regards… 🙂


Tell me about it...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s