Childhood fantasy

cslewis writing for children

He’s right… by the time you reach an age with double figures, fairy stories are for babies… and you are no longer a babe. In just the same way that we cease admitting to the guilty affection for the music our parents liked as we grew, so do the books of early childhood get left upon the shelf… at least when anyone is looking.

We ‘progress’ to more complicated reading. Quite often the books we read as teenagers say more about how we would like to be percieved by the world, or reflect the adventures or romance that we long for at that age. Most of those stories, too, are as wildly fantastical as the fairy tales… but being set in ‘reality’, they are more acceptable to our fledgling egos.

Those who loved fairy tales may be lucky, making the early discovery of fantasy and science fiction… which may simply be fantasy dressed in a titanium shell or clothed in alien forms. Eventually we may come to realise that good fantasy is a spur for the imagination, a portal through which the reader may explore the archetypes of personality and the very nature of story telling as a means of teaching.  Michael Straight put it beautifully when writing about Tolkien, saying “Fantasy does not obscure, but illuminates the inner nature of reality.”

By this time, you are wondering about those childhood fantasies we call fairytales… what were they teaching… and what had you missed? So you dust off the dog-eared tomes and start revisiting old friends, delighting once again in their company and unafraid to admit that you are re-reading Narnia for the umpteenth time, or keeping an eye out for Stig and Borrobil… and Merlin, of course. And who among us minds being seen with a copy of Tolkien these days?

A book is perhaps the easiest time machine back to childhood.

In magic there is possibility… anything can happen, and in a good book, usually does. This time around, though, you see the other layers… the subtle analogies and symbolism, the gentle lessons of morality and the interplay of characters that teach, all unbeknownst, elements of life to the young reader. I think that is what Lewis was referring to when he wrote, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

You may recognise the sources of some of the stories in the great tales and sagas of the ancient past. You may even delve into mythologies and legends, tracing them back to their origins and seeing how, within those age-old tales, a deep understanding of human nature and the workings of the universe  was concealed in a form that could be memorised and carried across the land by the bards, for a story is easy to recall; if we forget the words, the images and the essence of the tale remain with us.

In that, for me, there is magic, for the tales we write and read today are the same stories told by our forefathers, dressed in different clothes, set in different worlds, yet still they all speak of the inner nature of humanity and our quest for understanding of the universe in which we move.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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75 Responses to Childhood fantasy

  1. Ritu says:

    Wonderful thoughts Sue! I love to reread my childhood favourites now, with my kids!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: Childhood fantasy — Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo | Fantasy Gift Sources: Book Reviews, Article Resources, News

  3. Darlene says:

    So true and we seem to enjoy those books even more as adults, as we get it!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. jenanita01 says:

    Fairy tales are still the best stories in the world…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on Plaisted Publishing House and commented:
    I love C S Lewis. I love the says about writing a children’s book for children of all ages…one – one hundred…After all we are someones child 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Norah says:

    Like this thought especially, Sue, “A book is perhaps the easiest time machine back to childhood.” xx
    I don’t think I ever left childhood – in my heart anyway. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Helen Jones says:

    Even though most of my childhood books live in my daughter’s bookcase now, they are there for me to read as much as they are for her 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. colonialist says:

    An extra pleasure comes from when one finds enjoyment from re-reading one’s own writings, particularly those that came from stories one made up in one’s head when too young to write them.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love to go back and read my childhood favourites at times. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Widdershins says:

    Where would we be without our stories, and our storytellers? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. A lot of books I read when i was very young have turned out to be full of racism and other ugly stuff. I didn’t notice because I was so young, it didn’t mean anything to me back then. It was terribly disappointing for me to read it later. The older I get, the more sensitive I get to the blatant racism of many writers “back when.” Not to mention the raw cruelty embedded in many fairy tales. I’m sure there must be other stuff that is less … nasty … but I have not found MY childhood books to be heartwarming.

    My son’s generation of books was much better than mine. The writer’s were less bigoted and more sensitive. That’s what one generation did. My son is just a few years younger than you … and his childhood books — well. I chose them. That helped.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I agree, there are a lot of the older books that can, at best, be called products of their times…a dn those times had an altogether different outlook that we have today. Perhpas, though, without some of the bad stuff we read in those books, we might not have been moved to rebel against their inherent conditioning?

      Like

      • Kids are so oblivious to that stuff. I was. Only as I got older did I look back and thing “horrors!” What did that really SAY? For me, I think it was the world. Today, we have Trump, but then — we had Nixon who was in his way, pretty bad. We were beginning to break free.

        I do think those books began a lot of people on a career of writing much better children’s books, though. No one reads those old books anymore. You can’t even find them on the shelves in libraries. A completely new generation of authors has taken over and that’s just great. We needed that.

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  12. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A place for childhood fantasy in adulthood by Sue Vincent.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You are right, Sue. A good children’s book is the door to our childhoods. Maybe that is why I have never left my childhood behind.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jennie says:

    Wow, Sue! You said the words that I know to be very true. You just said it much better. Thank you!

    Like

  15. Jennie says:

    Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    The joy of reading fairy tales doesn’t end in childhood. Tolkien knew this well. In the words of Sue Vincent…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I have been able to revisit many of my childhood favourite stories with my boys, Sue. it has been wonderful to touch base with being a child again.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sue, what a wonderful post that stirs my fairy tale heart. Thank so much.Tolkien’s quote: “Fantasy does not obscure, but illuminates the inner nature of reality,” will now be one of my most favorite quotes of all time! 🙂

    Like

  18. Reblogged this on K. D. Dowdall and commented:
    Sue Vincent writes to the heart of fairy tales that adults today love to read and I am one of them. Like Tolkien said, ““Fantasy does not obscure, but illuminates the inner nature of reality.” https://scvincent.com/2018/03/15/childhood-fantasy-2

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Childhood fantasy | K. D. Dowdall

  20. Sue, I reblogged this great post! Thank you again! It made my day!

    Like

  21. willedare says:

    So glad to read your post AND then skim all of the comments. I have been buying a bunch of my favorite childhood books (E. B. White, C.S. Lewis, L’Engle and more) to give to nieces and nephews and the children of friends — and often I manage to get in one more re-reading before I wrap it up! I especially love this sentence from your post about how the best stories articulate “a deep understanding of human nature and the workings of the universe…concealed in a form that could be memorized and carried across the land by the bards, for a story is easy to recall; if we forget the words, the images and the essence of the tale remain with us.”

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      You sort of have to re-read them, don’t you? I still have a lot of my childhood favourites, too scruffy to give to granddaughters, but they are old friends…and you don’t give those away 🙂

      Like

  22. Tina Frisco says:

    If all genres had age rankings like movies have ratings, we wouldn’t need a ‘children’s book’ genre. I know a couple of people who wouldn’t be caught dead reading a children’s book without a child present. So unfortunate. I’d love to see this article posted in the Fantasy section of libraries, Sue ❤

    Like

  23. Couldn’t agree more – and beautifully put. Maybe too, when we mature, we are less constrained about doing what we want to do rather than succumbing to peer group pressure. It’s about being happy in your skin. Like admitting you were a secret Abba fan.

    Like

  24. yesmoreblogs says:

    Can’t think of any other words except Wow 😂

    Like

  25. Krishna says:

    So nicely written I loved it 🙌🏻🙌🏻❤️

    Like

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