What does it actually feel like to be a kid?

Jerry Griswold, director of the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, has written an insightful little book that helps us with that. It’s called Feeling Like A Kid.

Griswold says there are five themes that occur over and over in children’s literature that give us five windows into how kids feel.

  1. Snugness

Kids love snug places, playing underneath tables, making a tent from a blanket. We see this love of snugness in Badger’s cozy underground home in Wind In The Willows and many other stories.

  1. Scariness

Even small kids laugh at playing “Boo!” There is a fascination with the scary that we see in Little Red Riding Hood, Harry Potter, and many other stories. 

  1. Smallness

Size is a big deal to kids (excuse the pun). They love to move little figures around on the floor, play with small toys. They love Stuart Little driving his tiny car.

     4. Lightness 

Griswold says: “Kids frequently seem lighthearted…while adults are more solid and serious and weighed down by responsibilities.” So they love airborne characters like Peter Pan and Mary Poppins.

  1. Aliveness

From talking animals in Dr. Doolittle to talking toys in Pinocchio, for kids the whole universe is alive and full of companions.

John Updike talked about how important it is to “keep on speaking terms with children.” I think these five words are good ones to think about, as we try to understand these amazing little people around us and keep on speaking terms with them.

We’ll talk more about these and what they mean next week.