I have a weird fascination with children’s books. For Halloween this year I was The Little Prince one night and Eloise the next. I have The North Star and the second star to the right tattooed to my ankle and a boa constrictor digesting an elephant on my ribcage. Before I left for my first year of college, my grandmother gave me a copy of Harold and The Purple Crayon, along with a purple marker, which I still have.

"I am Eloise. I am six."

"I am Eloise. I am six."

There is something incredibly calming about children’s books – it’s hard for me to describe. They are like magical simplifications of life. I think the reason I am so enamored to them is that part of me wants to always see the world as a child does, simple and magical. My boa constrictor digesting an elephant tattoo, which is an illustration from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, is a good way to explain this. When the little prince shows this drawing to the grown-ups and asks if it scares them, they reply with a confused, “Why be scared of a hat?” The frustrated Little Prince then makes a second drawing to further illustrate the elephant inside the snake because “grown-ups always need explanations.” Childhood comes with the ability to imagine entire universes. I believe it was Picasso who said “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I think children’s books are my secret weapon in the battle to remain an artist.

It kind of does look like Pharrell's hat from the Grammy's though...

It kind of does look like Pharrell's hat from the Grammy's though...

I cherish children’s books because they remind me to use my imagination, to believe in magic, to always continue to ask questions and challenge authority. The books we read as children become a part of us as we grow, characters become like old friends that can always be revisited, and somehow, it seems, there is always more for them to teach us each time we return to them. I vividly remember my fourth grade teacher telling us this after we finished Jerry Spinelli’s Maniac Magee; that we should re-read this book again in high school, again after college, again when we have kids, etc, etc, because each time we read it, we would read a whole new story. This week is Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week, celebrating the geniuses who create and illustrate the magical characters (whether they be hungry caterpillars, little lost boys, or bears who lost their hats) and the worlds they live in (from Neverland to The Plaza Hotel). So,  take some time this week to pick up your old favorite children's book and revisit some old friends, I’m willing to bet they’ve got something new to teach you.

purple-crayon

 

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So, what do you think?