“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.”
―Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder
Almost every morning, my four-year old daughter wakes up begging to look at the sky. She knows that each day the morning will paint something different, something new to look at. The pink of yesterday could today be fiery orange, midnight blue or even the scream of scarlet.
To look at the world through a child is to look at the world anew. Nothing is taken for granted. The ordinary is extraordinary. A spider’s web, regarded by adults as a nuisance to be dusted away, is looked at as a marvel. A leaf lying on the pavement is pocketed, rather than crushed underfoot. And every stone at the beach, no matter how dull, no matter how ordinary, is an instant treasure.
Children’s literature is important because it mirrors how children perceive the world and that is in need of remembering. For a child, everything is possible and nothing is so hopeless that it cannot be overcome. Children are brave and bold; natural adventurers who seek to explore the world. But by the time we are adults, many of us lose this gift. Our lives become smaller and less enchanted. And each day, as we listen to the news, to the media, we are encouraged to begin the day with trepidation, protecting ourselves before we even know what the danger is. Our focus becomes about survival, about getting things done. And so we forget to pay attention, to look around and wonder at the beautiful, ordinary things that are within our reach each day. The world becomes something which merely sustains us, rather than something we enjoy. But in spending time with children, or in the pages of children’s literature, we can find the wonder which we have lost and look again with glittering eyes at the wild magic of the world.