“The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.” -G.K. Chesterton
When you see a mushroom in your yard, do you dismiss it? Or do you tap it with a stick to see it bounce? Do you think of fairies and smile?
And when you see the little snail in the garden, do you start fretting that the slimy thing will ruin your petunias? Or do you notice the simple beauty of its shell? Do you watch it inch its way across the leaf?
Do you stop to listen to breezes dancing through windchimes, stop to admire golden light falling through leaves and branches, or to smell the roses you walk by every day?
When you step out your door and are faced with a thousand little amazing things, how do you respond to each of them?
What G.K. Chesterton, an English writer and philosopher, so rightly realized is that our lives are filled with what-ifs and maybes, how-does and could-bes; filled with questions that could awake our imaginations, if only we would think to ask them. God has blessed us with a world brimming with beauty and touches of magic just begging to be noticed. As writers, it is our job to give these details the recognition they deserve.
This is especially true for children’s authors, as wonder is the natural state of a child. Children are the ones who think of weeds as flowers, who chase crickets, and laugh with the birds. To them, the world is wonder, and how on earth can we ask young readers to enter our worlds if we won’t enter theirs? In our stories, we try to create spaces for children to play and dream, but in order to craft these realms, we must remember to dream a little ourselves. We need to live with awe and curiosity and weave that wonder into our words.
But how can we reclaim our wonder?
Here are five suggestions:
1) Practice paying attention – Every day, make a point of finding at least one item of interest, whether it be a street musician in your path, a tiny flower poking out of the sidewalk, or a cloud shaped like a fluffy bunny. Just find one thing that makes you smile.
2) Ask questions – Let your mind wander every now and again, contemplating the details you notice throughout the day. Wonder where the geese you saw this morning might be heading. Ask yourself why the Lord decided to paint the sky blue instead of brown. The questions don’t have to matter for you to chase them. Your imagination can always use the exercise.
3) Read – Read stories that capture your imagination and make you curious. A few favorite recommendations of mine are The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Both of these are stunning stories and ones I believe every children’s writer should read.
4) Keep Notes – If you are especially touched by something you see, or if you find a question interesting, write it down. You never know what might be useful in a story later.
5) Recognize the Creator – Remember that the world around us was created by the Lord, and it declares His glory on a daily basis. He shaped every mountain and every blade of grass, and not a sparrow falls without His taking notice. That fact alone should be enough to place us in awe of the work of our Father’s hands, and to create in us a never-ending sense of wonder.
Karley Conklin is a student at North Greenville University, focusing on Literature and Christian Studies. Currently, she is the editor of The Mountain Laurel, her university’s art and literary journal, the last issue of which can be found online here. If she could be any literary character, she would choose Samwise Gamgee, with whom she shares a love for old stories, good friends, and delicious potatoes (in any form).