Reflective Renewal

finding meaning and inspiration in children's literature

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What was your favorite book as a child?

December 14th, 2009 by lauree · 6 Comments · children's books

I posed this question to my Facebook friends recently and the flood of replies seemed to signal how much we all relish the chance to be kids again.

More than the titles of books, I saw in the responses a sincere joy in remembering the sensory feel of the pages, the vivid illustrations, and where they were or who they were with when they first discovered reading. There also were the lingering lessons:

  • The_Giving_TreeYou can be anything you chose to be
  • Make yourself happy
  • It’s possible to give yourself completely to another person
  • Unabashedly be yourself
  • Even in the toughest of situations, you can be brave (and thrive)
  • Be kind to others, including animals
  • War is useless
  • Your challenge can also be your greatest gift
  • It’s fun to be silly
  • You’re not alone

These lessons have shaped us, and shaped the decisions we’ve made throughout our lives in a way that only our core values can do.

I’ve blogged before about values. They can come from any number of places – your experiences, what was instilled in you by others, or what you were born believing. Once a belief is introduced, we often use what happens around us — more specifically, our viewpoint of what is happening — as a proof point that it must be true.

Take for example, The Wizard of Oz. Reading it one could believe, or find proof, that a magical world is waiting to be discovered out the front door. Or, that there’s no place like home, so stay close to it. Same book, completely different lesson and resulting perspective on opportunities that arise in our lives.

Values, no matter how unquestionable they seem or how long you have held them to be true, are not hard-and-fast rules. You always have a choice about what you believe.

I love talking about choice. As a life coach, I host guided conversations on this topic. It’s amazing what can happen when we step outside ourselves and see how much change we can affect just through our perspective.

Look at any situation in your life right now, from the relationship with your mother to a disagreement in the checkout line. What would it be like if this wasn’t happening to you, if you were watching it unfold in a book instead? Suddenly each person involved (including you) are “characters” with their own needs, motivations, fears and desires. As an objective reader, you can see what led to this point and what might happen to change the outcome.

From this perspective, how might all of the characters get what they really need?

Not only is stepping outside of a situation useful for working with values and perspective in your own life, it brings new meaning to role of parents and teachers. Children’s minds are being shaped, and lasting values are being forged at every moment. Though we can’t control what they take with them or how it’s used later, your contribution is immensely powerful. More, in fact, than you can realize.

Makes me think that my next Facebook question should be – who was your favorite teacher and why? Stay tuned!

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nadine // Dec 14, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    you wrote: Children’s minds are being shaped, and lasting values are being forged at every moment. Though we can’t control what they take with them or how it’s used later, your contribution is immensely powerful. More, in fact, than you can realize.

    Made me think of the end of Into The Woods- from the song “Children Will Listen”
    “Children may not obey, but children will listen…
    Careful the tale you tell- that is the spell- Children will listen”
    : )

  • 2 PJ // Dec 14, 2009 at 5:30 PM

    “It’s possible to give yourself completely to another person”

    When did we lose that lesson? When did the idea of that become so frightening, that it created such boundaries to connecting to others and trusting that they won’t betray us, take advantage of us, or cause us to lose ourselves?

  • 3 lauree // Dec 14, 2009 at 6:25 PM

    PJ – thank you for raising those questions!

    Maybe it’s as simple as getting reacquainted, not only with the books of our childhood, but the lessons/values too. I think that our disconnection from them is a huge factor in us being disconnected from each other.

    To reconnect requires being conscious about the decisions we’re making and why instead of going through the motions, or letting our fears get the better of us.

    What do you think?

  • 4 PJ // Dec 14, 2009 at 6:32 PM

    @ lauree

    Good point…I think it’s also important to foster that resilience we had as children. Watch a child trying to ski…they fly down the hills, not worried that they are going to get hurt (watch an adult next). It’s with that same daring that they ask new people to be their friends.

    We need to remember that we’ll be ok and maybe it’s ok to decide to say, ‘Hey, wanna be my friend?” more often.

  • 5 As teachers, what is the greatest gift we give our students? // Feb 17, 2010 at 8:13 PM

    [...] In Lauree’s last blog post, she posed the delightful question, “What was your favorite book as a child?”  As teachers, it is imperative that ask ourselves not only that fun question, but also lots more questions about the role of literacy in our lives. [...]

  • 6 The power of children’s books outside the classroom // Mar 17, 2010 at 4:46 PM

    [...] was overwhelming! Just like the response I received to my question posed on this blog – What was your favorite book as a child? – even before the shower people were calling or emailing to tell me their favorite book, and [...]

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