I’ve gotten it into my head lately that I want to write children’s stories. Not typical children’s stories but ones like The Giving Tree and Stone Soup. Stories that I’ve remembered from childhood, almost clear as the day I read them. I couldn’t tell you what they said verbatim, but I can see their pictures and words in my head if I try to recall them. I think that says a lot.
I made a series of books recently that dealt with my mom and her recent return home. It’s been weird. Lots of swirling emotions going on. I still don’t have a clear thing to write about it yet BUT I do have a semi funny anecdote about the ways in which my mother manipulated me into being a horribly moral person. I say that with a smile. I love that I’m this way but it also plays into my paranoia and anxiety about getting into trouble (incarcerated parent issues) so that sort of compounds itself in unpleasant ways at times.
As I’m doing my research into “stories that teach children moral lessons”, I’ve stumbled upon something quite interesting. Several websites will direct you to moralistic reading lists for children. Except there’s one clear similarity in my mind amongst every list I’ve perused tonight: I’ve read all of them.
At first, the lists included a few familiar tales and then I kept searching. What I’ve found is a website that lists almost identically, the stories and books I read as a child. Even really obscure ones. Knowing my mother, she did this either completely intentionally or entirely on accident. I’m going to ask her tomorrow at lunch. I think she did it on purpose, but there’s some part of me that wonders too. Sometimes, there’s books that we just all want kids to read like Dr. Seuss or The Giving Tree because the stories are so sweet and innately good. They’re simple and the images aren’t too complicated. But I also wonder if that’s because we loved them and they shaped us growing up but we aren’t aware of it, or if we look back and know that we’re intentionally shaping these children and their values/morals by giving them these treasured classics? I know that in a school setting, teachers are probably doing it intentionally. At home though, are our parents?
I’m going to the library soon. I know that 9/10 of these books will be there and I don’t need to buy my research on children’s books. But jeez louise! I’d wondered why I was always so honest, brave, unafraid, and accepting. When I was growing up, reading was held in the highest regard. My mom would sit with us as we watched tv, reading her paperback mystery novels and painting her nails. I can’t remember her sitting in that chair without a book in her hand. When she’d yelled at me or gotten mad at something I’d done, she’d send me to my room and I distinctly remember a few times where I’d purposely place an opened book across my stomach and pretend to have fallen asleep reading it. It was almost like I wanted to shove it in her face that I was a good daughter and she’d been wrong for punishing me. I think I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder, I just forgot how young it started.