The bit below, from Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart, is just good. I have to share.
It brought back so many wonderful memories of adventures in my early reading days. She encapsulates much of what I’ve felt about reading fantasy and what it does for me in my heart, soul, and mind. Because of that, what she says extends to you and every human in our world.
She writes a frank, uplifting and inspiring conversation about the importance of books, fantasy, and reading for children and parents. You’ve got to read her book if you have any interest at all in the world of hopeful books. She includes a good list of books at the end. They brought back to me the adventure and wonder. Dive in!
“Lewis Mumford once said, ‘The words are for children, and the meanings are for men.’ But I don’t believe it. Children suspect more is present than the actual story, and because there is little space between the real and the unreal world in a child’s mind, they reach across with amazing ease and begin to ferret it out. They may read the story again years later and find that their experiences in life help them see more. Adults will read the same book and begin to better understand why they loved it as children. But at any age, the story is an experience of quality and substance.
“The most subtle and profound ideas are often found in books written for children. A kind of ‘suspended reality’ exists in which what is true becomes more obvious. Good fantasy helps us see ‘reality in unreality, credibility in incredibility.’ A child accepts and loves fantasy because of his own rich imagination and sense of wonder. For children, magical things are not nearly as complicated at they are for adults. They have room in their minds for all sorts of happenings. And those who write fantasy are not so much those who understand the heart of a child as those who have a child’s heart themselves. Out of the depth of their personal experience they combine a child’s heart with profound insights into life’s meaning. Some fantasies laugh; some are full of nonsense; other are breathless with adventure and brave deeds. …
“Not everyone takes to fantasies or fairy tales, although I believe most children do. These stories are certainly at their best when read aloud–especially fairy stories–because the lovely cadence of words and the economy of language make them a special experience. It is adults who worry over the make-believe, the magic, the strange creatures, the evil events, the wars, and sometimes the gore. Children have far less trouble. They readily know the difference between fantasy and reality. ‘No child confuses dragons or unicorns with cattle in a meadow,’ one writer said. It is the child who doesn’t know about dragons and unicorns who is to be pitied! …
“Children don’t squeeze life into boxes. They have room for a large variety of emotions and happenings and are quite aware of the possibilities in people. They know life is difficult; they are happy to believe it also turns out right in the end. I like Beauty and the Beast to this day because in that tale an act of love transforms what is ugly into something beautiful. I believe it still happens.”
Blogger’s Note: Gladys does not say all fantasies and depictions of ” the make-believe, the magic, the strange creatures, the evil events, the wars, and sometimes the gore” are good; her context deals with these subjects handled well in story. Read Honey for a Child’s Heart. You won’t regret it! Published by Zondervan, 1978.