9 Children’s Books that Reimagined Existence

9. The Velveteen Rabbit

 

"When you are real, you don't mind being hurt"

 

Of with blast, it doesn't get more existential that this. A sick boy's favourite toy seeks to understand the nature of reality. This is a heartbreaking story by any account, and a good introduction to the big questions.

 

8. The Little Prince

 

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

 

A beautiful tale of friendship, loneliness, loss, and love, The Little Prince is the fourth most translated book in the world and one of the best selling books of all time.

 

 

7. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

“Well, sir, if things are real, they’re there all the time."
"Are they?" said the Professor; and Peter did not quite know what to say.

 

Lewis maintained that his Chronicles were not allegorical but supposal. Suppose Narnia was real, how would the Christian redemption story play out in a fantastical world? 

 

6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

 

"Pay no attention the the man behind the curtain"

 

A self-improvement guide masquerading as a children's tale, set in an imaginary land we all know more than 100 years after Baum invited us to join him there. Especially relevant is the debate over which is most important: courage, heart, or brains.  

 

5. The Just So Stories

 

“This, O my Best Beloved is a story – a new and wonderful story – a story quite different from the other stories”

 

A series of short stories that reimagine how animals characteristics came to be. Written by Rudyard Kipling, lifelong naturalist and animal lover.

 

4. Aesop's Fables

"An astronomer used to go out at night to observe the stars. One evening, as he wandered through the suburbs with his whole attention fixed on the sky, he fell accidentally into a deep well. While he lamented and bewailed his sores and bruises, and cried loudly for help, a neighbor ran to the well, and learning what had happened said: "Hark ye, old fellow, why, in striving to pry into what is in heaven, do you not manage to see what is on earth?”

Interestingly, this lesson reflects is where many people to get into Absurdism eventually settle. If the stars are unknowable, what matters is that which we can understand here on earth. Camus believed this to be true as well. 

 

3. The Giving Tree

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“And the boy loved the tree.......very much. And the tree was happy.”

 

Originally published in 1964, this story becomes more true to our relationship with nature with each passing decade. It also is one of the most divisive books in Children's literature, with one side interpreting it as a lovely tale of self-less giving, and others as a cautionary tale of abusive relationships. What do you think?

 

2. Peter Pan

 

"All children, except one, grow up."

 

Originally published as a play in 1904, then novel in 1911, both and subsequent interpretations revolve around a boy who will never grow up and his adventures on the island of Neverland. Through these tales Barrie explores the different realities occupied by children and adults, and eventually concludes that there is some tragedy in the ensuing loss of innocence as one attains adulthood. 

 

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

 

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”

 

An 1865 novel written by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll) often abbreviated as Alice in Wonderland, it tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by bizarre, anthropomorphic creatures. Wonderland makes extensive use of logic games so remains a favourite of adults and children alike. It is often falsely confused with absurdist humour, but it more accurately belongs to the literary nonsense genre.

 

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