Channel your inner child as you revisit childhood classic

Nicole Aikens

Book can teach everyone something

I just don’t have the imagination for “Where the Wild Things Are.”

That’s how I felt the first time I read it two weeks ago, and that feeling has only been confirmed ever since.

I missed out on the bewilderment the book offers because I waited until I was 19 to read it. I counted 349 words over 37 pages that are dominated by pictures. There were 1,500 words in my last English paper.

The first time I read it, I didn’t even look at the pictures. That’s just not how I read anymore. But the pictures can tell the story by themselves – the words just aid the pictures along the way.

Also the morals I look for in a children’s book were nearly hidden, if there are supposed to be any at all.

English lecturer Matthew Shank, who teaches Children’s Literature, said one possible moral could be that the things children are scared of are just as afraid of them. While that’s a valuable lesson to learn, it isn’t blatantly obvious in the story.

Basically, I just wasn’t getting it.

That’s until I brought in a few new sets of eyes.

I read “Where the Wild Things Are” to five children between 4 and 7 years old. Their excitement and wide-eyed looks changed my mind about this story completely.

Every single one of the kids could relate to Max, the child in the book, in one way or another.

Mya, 7, and Maci, 6, said they sometimes imagine they are in different places, just like Max. Even though they didn’t describe a forest like Max, they tell of their fantasy worlds as well.

Callie, 5, said perfectly, “everyone is bad sometimes,” describing how Max acts in the book. And that’s true even still today. College students might not necessarily be chasing their dogs with forks, but I’d venture to say we’re all bad sometimes.

Four-year-olds Rylie and Lea, the youngest two of the group, didn’t say much about the book, but it was the looks on their faces that sold it for me.

After spending the time with the girls, I can admit that “Where the Wild Things Are” is a great children’s book. I may not be entranced by it like they were, but I can definitely see why a kid would be so amazed.

If you’re going to read “Where the Wild Things Are,” take it for what it is: a book for children.

It’s not enough to just read the book. You have to study it like a child; pay attention to the details in the pictures.

Take notice of the picture Max tacks to the wall, or, as Shank mentioned, the thick borders disappear when the “wild rumpus” starts.

If you pick up “Where the Wild Things Are,” you’re probably not going to be awestruck like you were as a kid, but you can definitely still enjoy the book because let’s be honest, we’re all a little wild at heart.

Contact features correspondent Nicole Aikens at [email protected]