by Harlow Essex
When I was younger, I loved story time with my mom. Children’s books are a huge part of my youth, as I imagine they are for a lot of people. Some stories didn’t have significant morals or lessons. The favorites always had colorful illustrations that told the story through lovely, elaborate images. As an adult though, having a more mature mind, have you ever re-read those stories and thought completely different about their meanings?
L.A. Times journalist Madeleine Brand thinks some stories are counter productive, teaching children lessons about resistance to individuality and restrictions on independence. Brand mentions The Giving Tree and The Rainbow Fish as two examples of stories she has re-read as an adult and felt were morally damaging to children. Among her favorites were The Frog and the Toad, a classic choice, and Bread and Jam for Frances.
Some children’s books are simply cute, happy, and fun to read through with a child. They may not have significant morals about life, but are a joy to read and re-read as an adult. People feel differently though, which Brand recognizes in her article. Books that may not be sending productive lessons about life can be helpful to parents too. It’s a great way to start a dialogue between the child and the parent, about what how they feel and think the stories are about.