Children have the gift of imagination and idealism, giving them boundless creativity and an enthusiasm for life that is enchanting to others. Their innocence can have a potent effect as well. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, for instance, is a character whose innocence allows him to see things that others refuse to see. “One sees clearly with the heart,” the author writes. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Children, whether they are 6 or 60 years old, don’t only see things without cynicism, they can also pretend without doubting themselves; and like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, they always take their dreams seriously. And even in the worst circumstances their innocence helps them remain hopeful and as enthusiastic as the iconic orphan Annie, impoverished Tiny Tim—and doomed Anne Frank, whose diary continues to inspire readers to embrace their own difficult lives. “Think of all the beauty still left around you,” she writes with innocence that only optimists can access, “and be happy.”
Happiness, children seem to know inherently, is contagious. Even comedians working in a brutal business can be in touch with a childlike appreciation that gives their comedy an innocent point of view. Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, for instance, all seem to get a kick out of the simplest things. Some of their best gags are their silliest. And often they involve the most innocent and unsuspecting children.
Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Emma Roberts, Hailee Steinfeld
Not yet cynical, open-minded, expressive, and inspirational to others lost in the banalities of life, children bring the gift of fresh eyes and playful ideas to everyone around them.
The child is by nature selfish, undisciplined, and irresponsible. He or she often is unable to separate reality from delusion.
Pretending, creating, playing, daydreaming
- The Psychology of the Child by Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder
- A Mind at a Time: America’s Top Learning Expert Shows how Every Child Can Succeed by Mel Levine
- A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
- The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettleheim
- Matilda by Roald Dahl
“The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us.” -Eugene Ionesco