If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six.
Open your child's imagination. Open a book.
~ Author Unknown
his week is Children’s Book Week (May 7-13), and fittingly, one of the most beloved (and controversial) children’s authors died yesterday: Maurice Sendak.
When I was a child, Where the Wild Things Are was not a controversy, it was a story. A story about working out your frustration with your imagination, a reality that I was already wise to. Max just let me know I wasn’t alone.
My friend Sullivan found this 1993 LA Times article about Sendak, with a great line about what his writing really meant. Sendak gave
young readers generous credit for what they know. In doing so, he (gave) children a respect they rarely receive from more traditional children's writers. And it is a gift. . .that empowers kids to protect themselves, to fight back, to survive.
They also taught me that defeat was not necessarily something to be feared. One could lose and still hold on to truth and beauty and goodness. Better to die well, then live in shame!
Perhaps it is because parents wish to spare their children of the horror of the world that they rise up in horror at books like Where the Wild Things Are, James and the Giant Peach, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc. But they are forgetting something important:
What comes out of a man is what defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a man. (Mark 7:20) [emphasis added]
Children are innocent of many things and it is laudable to want to keep them that way for as long as possible. And yet… they already know what it is to covet (I want his toy!), deceive (I didn’t break the vase!), and slander (Tommy broke it!). Dark inclinations are present in us even as children, and you’re not helping children to master those inclinations by denying their existence or raising children in a bubble.
I understand where this temptation of parents comes from.
|Max, King of the Wild Things|
I think Sendak walked that line fairly well. May he rest in peace. . .where the wild things are.
Oremus pro invicem,
What do you think? How far should adults go to protect children from the wild things that might be lurking in the dark?