Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Oh, the Places You'll Go With an Imagination!

 
"Boy Reading Adventure Story" by Norman Rockwell, 1923


In my younger days, Norman Rockwell was a favorite artist of mine, and some of his work can still make me smile. When I came across this particular piece recently, it made me realize (once again) that I'm not quite mainstream. Within the past few years, I've read articles about children needing books that they can imagine themselves in. If the child is Hispanic or Native American or Asian or... fill in the blank... they need to see characters in the stories they read that look like them, characters that behave like them, characters that live in the same sort of places they do. The first time I read such an article, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised, and this is why I said earlier that I have to remember that I'm not mainstream.
 
See that boy in Rockwell's painting? I can look at that painting and feel myself right in the middle of it. I'm that child reading that story and envisioning my armor glinting in the sun while I rescue someone in distress. (Did you actually think I'd be the damsel on the back of the horse? *snort*) I can see myself reaching down to scratch my dog's ears, telling him that we'd head for the creek as soon as I finished this chapter. I don't need to have a book present a mirror image of myself for me to put myself into the story.
 
But I can see how other people-- especially children-- do need that little extra boost, and I'm all for it. Only by embracing and celebrating our differences can we humans have a prayer of reaching our full potential, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is through the stories that we share. 

12 comments:

  1. Interesting you can see yourself in that picture. I can't. It seems like the perfect all-American life. I didn't have that in Chicago and also I'm half Eastern European Jewish, so that's not a life I can identify with. Except the reading. I can imagine myself reading anywhere and I'd like to have had a dog there/

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    1. I had a dog, and I grew up in a small farm village where I played Cowboys and Indians (I was an Indian), pretended my bicycle was a racehorse, and when we played house, my "husband" stayed home with the kids while I went to work. An imagination is a wonderful tool-- especially in conjunction with books.

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    2. What a lovely vision of your young life. The view that city childhoods are more interesting than those in rural communities is obviously not true.

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    3. I'd take my childhood in that little village over a childhood in the city any day. (There were thirty-nine kids in my graduating class,)

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  2. I can certainly identify with that flight of imagination, Cathy. I may not have all that much in common with the boy in the picture, but being set free with books? That resonates.

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  3. I have no problem imagining myself in the middle of stories in which I would never actually be involved in real life. I can identify with characters of all stripes and backgrounds. Imagination can indeed take us anywhere.

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    1. All we have to do is find the key that sets it free.

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  4. I still love Rockwell's artwork! And anything with books in it always makes me smile. :)

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  5. I love the detail that the boy's imagination still has him wearing his glasses :)

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