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Books for Kids


N.D. Wilson (son of Doug, for those who know who he is) writes kids’ books. By all accounts, they’re really good. Have not read them yet, but they’re now on the list. They sound like good, fun, solid books that kids will enjoy:

Here’s why he writes books for kids:

Bedtime. It is the most important time in my day. At bedtime, I tuck four children into the appropriate beds in the appropriate rooms. They never think they’re tired. Their eyes are bright and their young minds crackle with surprising thoughts on the day, the future, the nature of the universe. At bedtime, I let go of four imaginations, and they wander alone through the darkness, unchaperoned, unguided, shaping visions for themselves, resting in warmth or wandering into terror.

Every night, I feel like I’m launching paper boats into an ocean. I point my children as best I can. I flavor their minds with subjects and characters and songs and dances and blessings. And when they are warm and spilling over with joy, I let go, and I wait for the morning to hear of their adventures.

This is why we sing about drunken sailors and what to do with them, about how some folks say a man is made out of mud, about lost Scottish love and the walls of Jerusalem. This is why I tell them stories …

I am regularly asked why I write stories for children. The easy answer? I’m childish. But to be honest, I have no intention of limiting myself to children’s stories. At this phase of my life, however, they are the most important stories I can tell. I have children, I love children, and imaginations need food. The world is big. The world is wonderful. But it is also terrifying. It is an ocean full of paper boats. For many children, the only nobility, the only joy, the only strength and sacrifice that they see firsthand comes in fiction. Even when children have plenty of joy in their lives, good stories reinforce it. As long as I’m dealing in honesty, I may as well admit that I have been more influenced (as a person) by my childhood readings of Tolkien and Lewis than I have been by any philosophers I read in college and grad school. The events and characters in Narnia and Middle Earth shaped my ideals, my dreams, my goals. Kant just annoyed me.

When I write for kids, I try to embrace the wildness of the world. I have no desire to trick children into false security. My characters almost always begin a story afraid. In 100 Cupboards, a timid Henry York discovers the world as it is, and it terrifies him. But it also challenges him, and he rises to that challenge — even more so in Dandelion Fire. Evil is real (and it must really be overcome), but it is no more real than Goodness.

Enough posing. I’m childish. I like books for kids. I like reading good ones. I like trying to write good ones. I like readers that still have some elasticity to their imaginations. I  like readers that demand some variation of “happily ever after” at the end of a story.

Good stuff. This is the kind of guy you want writing stories. Makes me want to read his books. And then write my own. (Um, yeah, don’t count on that.)

Here is a Q&A Wilson did with kids. Also good stuff. There’s a great story about a mouse, a toddler and the toddler’s angry mother.

(HT: Justin Taylor)



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