Is It ‘Wonderland’ After All?

Alice in WonderlandHow many of you hated sitting at home in the afternoons and evenings as a kid? I loved to read as a kid, but I remember telling my Mum to get me only those books which had illustrations. I loved colour, and I loved being a part of an activity, but most of all, I was very mischievous and inquisitive, few of the reasons why I loved the “Alice” series- Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Many of us would like to believe that Alice is a typical 10 year old child. She hates having nothing to do, and a fantasy always comes out of her free time. Some would also like to believe that children’s stories with an element of fantasy in it disrupt the mind of a child, that if there’s no moral to the story, it’s no good. Some adult readers don’t approve of those stories that encourage the child to fantasize. Frankly, how many of us have voluntarily wanted to read those books as a kid that had no fantasy, and just a strong moral?It’s sad to see the same grown-ups being so critical about what a child should be allowed to read and what not, considering we were all kids at one point. What the writer should ensure is that the story or book does not contain too much information for a particular age. Other than that, at the age of 10 and above, a child should be given the liberty to read as much, because it is through reading that one learns, learns to imagine, to observe and to create opinions which are later modified or reinforced. We have children’s literature in our 3-year English literature course, and it bothers me to realize that my classmates term Alice as Dyslexic. Some times, you just want to shake the shoulders of those lost in the materialistic world and remind them that we all grew up on what is now termed as “nonsensical”. We all were inquisitive, stubborn and naïve children. We all loved to create imaginative situations out of our dull present ones; we all had imaginary friends and living stuffed animals. We played in the sand; we lived in the worlds of kings, queens and butterflies; we hated coming back home after running around; we hated taking a bath but most of all, we always wanted to grow up, not knowing how much harder it would be to store the innocence. The “Alice” series, the Famous Five and Secret Seven series were written with an intention, to transfer the child reader into an imaginary world, far away from his/her real complex life. Also, it was intended to make the kids aware of the clear distinction, which in a sense is also a kind of moral. I don’t think children’s literature writers wrote their pieces with any intention of a strong moral. The beauty of children’s literature is that it is not supposed to make sense and include logical reasoning and facts. Sometimes I wish the adults were smart enough to realize that. Swetha Ramakrishnan

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