And Most of All, Winnie the Pooh: Don’t Sell Those Kids’ Books Just Yet!Posted: August 8, 2012
Battling insomnia for most of last weekend, I found myself watching the most recent iteration of Winnie the Pooh. I may be 21, but I’m not embarrassed to admit I still love Disney movies, old cartoons, children’s books, and most of all, Winnie the Pooh.
GIF blog “How do I put this gently?” put it best –
When someone says I’m too old to watch Disney movies:
In all seriousness, though, the Atlantic recently published an article on why adults should still read children’s books, and I think we should take heed of the advice.
Most children’s books have a secondary message – one that is hidden beneath layers of talking animals, damsels in distress, and nursery rhyme. Often allegorical, adults will miss out on valuable messages by not giving children’s books a second look from a mature standpoint
Maria Konnikova delves into three of my favorites – The Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland, and of course, Pooh – each of which offers a unique lesson to over-age readers.
The Little Prince, she points out, contains commentary on “everything that’s wrong with modern life and what can be done to fix it.” The drunkard who’s ashamed of drinking, the geographer who doesn’t leave his desk, and the lamplighter stuck in a numbing routine all remind us to have some perspective.
“The little prince reminds us to have the proper perspective on the world around us: to be attentive and present, to know why we do what we do, to remain ever-curious, ever-inquisitive, ever-questioning, to remember the things that matter–and those that don’t. A child can’t realize the significance of the lesson, because it hasn’t yet been lost on him. The little prince’s vantage point is the only one he’s ever known.”
Lewis Carrol’s Alice explores philosophical and intellectual material ranging from the nature of identity (what’s in a name?) and the quality of time to the difference between reality and dreams. A lighthearted meditation on existence, young readers can’t begin to understand the depth with which Carroll penned the Alice novels.
The Cheshire Cat, for example, who Konnakova writes “encapsulates the nature of existence, of time, of reality: three of the most bedeviling problems of the mind,” offers Alice the piece of advice that she’ll surely get somewhere, as long as she keeps walking. Surely that advice would be helpful to many an adult.
Finally, A.A. Milne’s beloved cast of characters offers insight into some of the most common and recognizable personality types. Look at Eeyore, worrywart and eternal pessimist, in the movie I just watched last weekend. While Pooh approaches the “mystery of the missing tail” by saying, “You must have left it somewhere,” Eeyore counters, “Somebody must have taken it.”
Eeyore isn’t the only recognizable character in the clan. Rabbit, the planner; Owl, the pompous scholar; Piglet, the fearful – we all know people like this. And we can certainly all use a little Pooh in our life. The tubby little cubby appreciates the simple things in life, looks at life with an optimistic attitude, and is always there to help out a friend.
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” Piglet asks him as their adventures near an end, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” Pooh answers. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” responds Piglet.
Pooh thinks it over. “It’s the same thing,” he says. And as adults, we can at last appreciate just how right he is.
So before you give away all your, or your children’s, old books for nickels at the next garage sale, give them another read. You just might find a helpful hidden message. And even if you don’t, it never hurts to embrace your inner kid.