One of the great things about children’s books is the way they they help us think about different ways of seeing the world, different points of view.

Last time, I shared an excerpt from The Little Prince. One of the big themes of the book is the difference between the boy-narrator’s point of view and the point of view of grown-ups (as he sees it).

For example, the boy-narrator explains that the little prince is from a small planet which he believes to be Asteroid B-612:

            “This asteroid has been sighted only once by telescope, in 1909 by a Turkish astronomer, who had made a formal demonstration of his discovery at an International Astronomical Congress. But no one believed him on account of the way he was dressed. Grown-ups are like that.

            “Fortunately for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator ordered his people, on pain of death, to wear European clothes. The astronomer repeated his demonstration in 1920, wearing a very elegant suit. And this time everyone believed him.

            “As I’ve told you these details about Asteroid B-612 and if I’ve given you its number, it is on account of the grown-ups. Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?” They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weight?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him. If you tell grown-ups, “I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof…” they won’t be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, “I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs.” Then they exclaim, “What a pretty house!”

            “So if you tell them: “The proof of the little prince’s existence is that he was very delightful, that he laughed, and that he wanted a sheep. When someone wants a sheep that proves he exists,” they shrug their shoulders and treat you like a child! But if you tell them, “The planet he came from is Asteroid B-612,” then they’ll be convinced, and they won’t bother you with their questions. That’s the way they are. You must not hold it against them. Children should be very understanding of grown-ups.”

Speaking of point of view, Helen Keller, who was blind, wrote an article called, “Three Days To See.” She listed the things she would most want to look at if her sight was restored for three days. She mostly mentioned everyday things that we pass by all the time.

Keller said, “I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same can be applied to the other senses.”

Not a bad exercise for anyone who wants to write for children. Or anyone who wants to live more fully.