Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury gives this advice:

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”

No need to tell that to a three-year-old! They are stuffed with wonder and amazement every day. It’s their default mode.

But fast-forward twenty or thirty years and what happens to the spirit of wonder? Does it sometimes get replaced with boredom, or taking-for-grantedness, or smugness, or lack of curiosity, lack of enthusiasm, lack of exuberance for life and learning?

What does a person lose when the spirit of wonder is lost? What does a person gain when the spirit of wonder is nurtured and encouraged?

I believe that nurturing a sense of wonder and excitement is of prime importance for our children—especially as they approach adolescence.

Socrates says that “Wisdom begins in wonder.” But a lot of other things begin there too.

The love of learning begins in wonder.

The ability to question and explore and think for yourself begins in wonder.

The desire to make something of one’s self and one’s life begins in wonder.

I think the love of life begins in wonder.

I also believe that good stories help nurture and encourage the sense of wonder.

In particular, fairy tales and folk tales nurture a child’s sense of wonder about the “world out there” and his or her eventual place in it.

Jack climbs up the beanstalk. Hansel and Gretel go off into the woods. They are crossing over into that “world out there”—where anything might happen. It’s scary, but it’s also exciting.

The reader identifies with the hero and is encouraged to think of the “world out there” as a place of wonder and adventure where one can plunge into life, meet and overcome obstacles, and emerge victorious.

As Krakatoa the parrot tells Hodgepodge (as they enter the jungle), “The jungle is a place where anything can happen. So that’s what you have to be ready for: anything.”