They may not seem to get on, but Lydon and Brand agree, it is good to read.
“I think I have worked out why the big bang happened”, said the six year old.
I am delighted when I look across a children’s party and see that my son, having had his fill of cake and bouncy castle, is sat under a chair, reading a book. He has devoured most of the Horrible Histories and talks of beheadings, disembowelings and obese monarchs leaking from their cracking coffins with some regularity.
The only book he has brought back from school that I have blanched at when asked to read it at bedtime was the Children’s Bible. This was not for “militant atheist” reasons, it was merely that the adultery, dead babies and cruel slaughter went beyond the Dahl gauge of the grotesque. My own The Children’s Bible In Colour of childhood seemed to be less abrupt and more eloquent. Fortunately, I still have a copy, and I think I will swap it with the Bibles for Children’s edition. Don’t worry, it’s still brutal, the images of Absalom hanging by his hair from a tree, and Abimelech with a millstone landing on his head are almost as vivid in my memory as anything from Struwelpeter. I may get a copy of My First Holy Qur’an for Little Children, if not for my son, it will save me a lot of reading time.
When he is a little older, he can enjoy Robert Crumb’s interpretation of the Book of Genesis.
Currently, he has more questions on many worlds interpretation than Jesus or the prophets, but it’s all swings and roundabouts and scooter injuries at this age. The seeds of scepticism and critical thinking haven’t sprouted into a plant whose vines will strangle all myths and apocryphal tales at this age. Today, in the journey to be critical with sources, we decided that the facts on the web concerning giraffes and swallowing time, from mouth to stomach, were a bit all over the place, and we better a write another, more trustworthy giraffe fact onto the homework page. Only minor erasing was required.
When he asks scientific questions, or offers up theories, I enjoy the mental taxation of seeing what I am capable of answering to his satisfaction, and discovering what I don’t understand well enough to describe succinctly.
I liked his description of the big bang happening because “there was just too much stuff packed together so it had to burst open”.
How exciting it is, to sit and muse on all the other potential “hims” their might be in all the other possible worlds – dragon winged or elephant headed, changing numbers of digits, ears of all shapes…
Sitting on the train to Enfield Town, we thought of what would happen if his friends went off traveling at the speed of light, and of the robots on Mars.
This is the brilliance of books, and the sadness when I hear of houses with none in and parents who no longer read. If children don’t see reading about the house, then it is in danger of becoming eccentric behaviour, the hobby of unusual.
The internet is packed with things, even if its giraffe information is a bit of a mess, but it is books more than anything else which seem to really engage and massage the mind. There is something about the engagement that happens between mind and paper when sitting under a chair with cake in your hair, and socks loose from jumping…
See the children engrossed in the corner of a public library before you declare them archaic and worthy of extinction. How many worlds for many interpretations are shelved and ready to be opened..?
I am off to USA with Professor Brian Cox for a tour
I am off to Australia to tour on my own
and I am still taking myself around the occasional UK date too, from Edinburgh via Bishops Stortford to Salford (and plenty of Christmas shows in London too)