“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
When summer arrives, everyone subconsciously gets some recollections from their childhood, remembering their holidays, games they used to play, things they used to love, books, films etc… That’s an irrefutable fact. I, like many others, also become nostalgic in this season. Besides, this year happened to be the one, when I read a few of children’s literature that I’d never read before and reread my old favorite ones. Hence the topic for today’s post.
There are many amazing books for kids, full of positivity and lightness, which are also really instructing. They have so much wisdom and knowledge in them, that you actually wonder why people thought that those are purely for children. These books teach you so much in the most primitive and easiest way, show you the reality we’re living in through metaphors and hyperboles. I think adults can learn even more from those books, because children usually don’t pay attention, they still look at the world with their pink glasses, they don’t need and don’t want to see something more, only the fun part. Of course they also learn a lot, how to behave, what is real friendship or love, what is good and bad and so on. But as an adult you get deeper into the meaning behind the simple, beautiful sentences and you can actually get the best message from it. That’s exactly why some of my favorite books are from children’s literature (including the most favorite- Harry Potter, which I’ve discussed earlier). I don’t get ashamed when naming those books as my favorites, because I don’t think books really have an age restriction. So without further ado, let’s look at my top picks from this “genre” and see why they’re good and what they can teach us, adults.
1. Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I have talked about this every now and then in various posts. It’s about a little girl Mary, who loses her parents and has to live with her uncle in his huge mansion with big gardens. She slowly learns to do everything by herself and gradually starts changing from the spoiled kid to a responsible and smart one. It’s so curious reading it, especially for the first time, I suddenly felt, that something is changing within me too. That I grow along with Mary and the garden, and got that fresh blooming feeling inside. I started to appreciate nature much more and it was certainly a turning point read for me. You understand that just like nature can change itself throughout the year, you can too. After winter everything seems dead and hopeless to blossom again, but even the driest trees and flowers get reborn again and it gives you a great motivation.
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This one is quite famous, due to the numerous movie adaptations, which are also all great. Little women is the sweetest story, about a family of a mother and four sisters (their dad is in the war). It gives you the bittersweet nostalgia of childhood and growing up. You see things from the perspectives of four different girls having their own characteristics, flaws and good sides and you learn so much with them about different aspects of life. Plus it gives you the greatest sense of the word family and home. But I have one big advice for those, who haven’t read this. The original version was published in two volumes, and if you want to remember this story as this kind, happy book about four children, read only the first volume. I heard many people agree with me on this one, cause the continuation seems a little messed up compared to the first part, which is just perfect.
3. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I feel like universe made me read these books in such periods in my life, when I needed them, their wisdom the most. This books is about orphan Anne (duh) who gets adopted by middle-aged brother and sister. Anne has been through a lot, but she’s the most positive girl you’ve ever known. Why? Because even when things aren’t good, she imagines and pretends that they are. Throughout the book you’ll constantly come across to the phrase “I’ll just imagine that…”. Whenever the reality isn’t as good as she’d want to, she adds things to it from her imagination and it’s the best thing I could have get at that time. Of course it’s no good living merely in your imaginary world, but let’s face it, reality can be cruel and when you can’t change it, you change your attitude, making the situation more tolerable and even pleasant. This book also has a few sequels, but I’ve only read the first one yet.
4. Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter. Many people compare this with Anne, and I can totally see why, it indeed has many resemblances. Pollyanna moves in with her strict and severe aunt after loosing her parents. And just Anne, she’s also very optimistic and a merry child, spreading happiness everywhere she goes. And again, she has her own game to play. It’s called the “glad game“. In every situation, especially the hard and toughest ones, she always tries to find something to be glad about. For example when she received crutches instead of a doll from a missionary barrel, she looked at the good side rather than being upset about it. She realized how lucky she is, that she doesn’t have to use the crutches because she doesn’t need them. And the harder and worse the situation is, the more interesting and fun it becomes to play this game and to find at least one thing to be glad about. This is one of those lessons that should be taught early from school. Because if we have learned to focus more on the bright side of any situation, our lives would be 100 times better.
5. Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Just as I’m writing this, I realize how similar, yet unique all these books are. Can you guess what this one is about? Little girl Heidi, having no close relatives is sent to live with her grandfather, who again is a strict man, living an isolated life, high in the mountains, far from the local village. And just like in the previous two works, you see how a single positive person can change so many people around her. That emphasizes the truthfulness of the saying that one good thing is worth much more than 10 bad ones. Even the “Snow queen” can melt, if there’s the right person next to them. Besides you learn a lot about true altruism, you see how a selfless good deed can cause you just as much joy and happiness, as if you’ve done sth for yourself. We definitely need more altruistic people in this world, caring for something and someone other than themselves. Another lesson you’ll learn is how “life is about simplicity“, you see how the simplest things like a sunset, or the sound of trees and fresh air can be enough for someone to feel happy, and can scare away the most dreadful moods. And that you don’t need any luxuries to be well and happy. The descriptions in here are truly fascinating, you get the feeling that you’re out there in the Alps along with Heidi and her friends.
6. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I couldn’t have ignored this one, as it’s a childhood favorite of mine. I think this is the only one from my list that people don’t consider as “childish” because there are so many great philosophical quotes about your true identity, your life goals or just life in general. All the puns, all the metaphors are really on point, and once you understand what those metaphors stand for, everything makes sense for you and you see it not as a total chaos, but a book of wisdom. It’s interesting to see how our brain transforms the reality into our dreams or imagination, and tries to reflect things that are relevant in our real lives through our dreams.
7. Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Last one on the list. To be honest I don’t remember this as well as others, cause I read it only once and a few years ago, so I definitely need to reread it. It’s about a girl Sara, born in India and sent to a boarding school in London. Her father is really rich, so she gets all the luxuries in school and is treated very well. But when Sara’s father dies and looses all the money, Sara becomes from top student to an errand girl, living in the attic, working non-stop and being half-hungry all the time. This book tells about people and their attitude towards money, wealth and poverty. Some people can change when they become extremely rich or poor, they can become arrogant and boastful in first case, and vicious, tough and cruel in the second one. But in the example of Sara you see, that money really isn’t everything, and that there are things more “expensive” and valuable than that, like kindness, humanity, selflessness, positivity, a pure and warm-hearted soul. These are the things that will help you through your hard times as well as good times, not to lose your head, stay grounded, and not connect your happiness or your well-being with your social status or fortune. Also once again you see how different people around can become, depending on how wealthy or poor you get, that sometimes people just pretend to love and respect you, but once you get into trouble, and loose your “status“, you become insignificant and inferior for them.
There were so many other great books that I could have included in this list, but then my writing will have no end. The honorary nominees for this post are Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins and Wizard of Oz. Remember, in every book you read, every film that you watch, even if they seem highly immature for an adult, there’s always something important and educational. If you have read the books from this list, it’s right time to get into the nostalgic feeling of childhood again, but this time being more attentive and perceptive, trying to learn as much as possible. And if you’re to read them for the first time, hope you’ll like them just as much as I did.