Childhood is a time filled with magic—the magic of mystery and intrigue, of discovery and understanding, of comprehension and joy! Children live in a world of their own—a world of fantasy, dreams, and stories. They need this world to fathom this mystery we call life, and books help in no small measure. As Philip Pullman, the novelist, has famously said— “Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play.” 

The feel of a brand new book in one’s hands, the fresh minty smell that pervades the senses as one opens it, turning its crisp pages one after the next as one begins a journey of discovery! It’s sensory gluttony!   

As each story unfolds itself, a world of imagination is created in the child’s mind leggi l’articolo completo. Upon hearing or reading a story, he or she can envisage the gleaming fortress in the distance, the long winding road, the swishing, swaying trees in the thick forest up ahead, the smell of blooming flowers, the sound of a brook nearby, the chirping crickets and the singing birds. The sky along with its elements, the shining sun or the twinkling stars and the glowing moon all come alive in the mind’s eye. A good story book opens up a world of amazement and wonder, of discovery and delight, of mystique and inspiration for the child. It is their safe place, a place which they would not want to leave ever. 

As a child growing up in the 70’s, who can forget books written by the legendary British author Enid Blyton?  Her series involving mysteries solved by the Five Find-outers, the adventure series of the Famous Five and the escapades of The Secret Seven, the midnight feasts and schoolgirl pranks at St. Clare’s and Malory Towers and the Naughtiest Girl series are by far the best loved stories by children and young adults everywhere. In the scores of fantasy books written by her, she brought to life a make-believe world of talking animals and birds, fairies and pixies, gnomes and goblins, demons, princes and princesses, and of wishing chairs and enchanted forests. 

Even though Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Big Friendly Giant (BFG), and the Charlie and Willy Wonka series are based on a real world of sadness and poverty, the legendary characters in these books discover magic within themselves through the various adventures that come their way. 

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling created an unprecedented and hereto unheard of frenzy amongst children the world over! The Hogwarts school of wizardry and witchcraft came alive, as did Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hagrid, Hedwig, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and all the other characters immortalized by Rowling, imprinted on the minds of book lovers across the globe! 

Dubbed ‘The Master of Myth’ by the critics, and ‘Uncle Rick’ by his fans, Rick Riordan has taken it upon himself to impart knowledge of world mythology to his readers. He has written multiple series featuring Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythology. He weaves tales of fantasy fiction, adventure, myths updated for today’s time, and even heartbreak in the most entertaining manner. 

Closer home are the works of Ruskin Bond who is one of the most loved-authors, living in the hills of Mussoorie. An Indian- English journalist, Rudyard Kipling is the youngest Nobel Laureate for English Literature till date. He is known for his famous poems—Mandalay, If, and GungaDin, as well as his most loved story of all time, “The Jungle Book,” which has been translated into several languages, forming the basis of famous movies and animations of the same name. 

Among Indian language writers, Munshi Premchand, Guru Rabindranath Tagore, and Subhadra Kumari Chauhan wrote some of their works for children, for eg. Eidgaah, Kabuliwala and Jhansi ki Rani respectively. 

In recent years, Sudha Murty’s books for children woven around folktales, mythical tales and stories of everyday happenings, have managed to excite the imagination of children. Her stories are short and simple, and hold the interest of the reader till the very end. 

Every country and region has woven into their cultural fabric stories that amuse and entertain, increase knowledge and have a moral lesson interwoven in them, be it the Aesop’s Fables written by a Greek slave, German fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson, Russian tales of Ivan, Alyonushka, Baba Yaga, of palaces, kings, kingdoms and magic, tales from the Arabian Nights viz. Alibaba and the Forty Thieves, Hatim Tai, Middle Eastern tales of Mulla Nasruddin, stories from India of the Mahabharata and Ramayana from the Upanishads of Krishna and Ram and Ravan and Shiv and Hanuman, stories of animals and birds and reptiles in Panchatantra and the Hitopadesha, tales of Buddha known as Jataka Tales, tales of Tenaliraman and Akbar and Birbal, Vetal Pachcheesi and Sinhasan Batteesi…the list has no end. 

Simple language and colourful illustrations in comic books catch the eye and make the story interesting for the young reader. Some of the most popular comics in India are Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Tintin, Asterix, Winnie the Pooh and friends, Dennis the Menace, Archie and friends, Snoopy and Peanuts. Some of the monthly publications and comics we grew up on are no longer available, but are still steeped in memory. Mandrake and Lothar, Bahadur, Phantom and Diana, Lotpot, Chandamama, Motu-Patlu and Ghaseetaram, Parag, Chandamama, Madhumuskan are all dearly missed by those who grew up reading them. Nandan, Champak, Baal Hans, Chotu-Motu, Bal Bhaskar, Young Bhaskar and Bachchon ka Desh, on the other hand, are still going strong and enthral young readers with their innovative content. 
Yes, books are not just a gateway to knowledge and entertainment, but also a window into the enormous world that lies outside our homes! A book houses within itself the mystique and the charm of the unknown. As one commences on this exciting voyage, the words engage and unravel their magic to the reader, who is then carried along through a sea of emotions and transported to another world—that of the writer—and one is never the same again. It is the written words in between the covers of a good book that stay on in memory, long after the last word of the last chapter is read.

Focusing on Literature and Lifestyle of the Urban Youth of the Country, LitGleam is a monthly magazine, an intrinsic part of BlueRose Publishers.

Within its pages, our readers find provocative essays on literature and lifestyle, guidance for getting published and pursuing writing careers, in-depth profiles of poets, fiction writers, and writers of creative nonfiction, and conversations among fellow professionals.