In the Attic

While looking for a children’s book, I thought back to one of my favorite books from my childhood: A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. A book filled with children aimed poetry. The structure is simple as is the language and most of the poems are accompanied by goofy illustrations. Some of the poems are just plane entertainment, while others seem to be hinting at something a child could mimic. A poem for each comes to mind with “Bear in there” and “How Not to have to Dry the Dishes”. “Bear in there” tells the tale of a polar bear which lives in the child’s refrigerator. The poem provides a good laugh with the odd concept, but nothing really can be taken from the poem. “How Not to have to Dry the Dishes”, on the other hand, tells the tale of a little girl who presents an idea on how she can get her parents to never ask her to dry the dishes again by dropping them on the floor and breaking them. Many homes in this day and age might have a dishwasher which both washes and dries the dishes, but the concept here can go much deeper. A child may look for an easier alternative than doing the work itself after reading such a poem. Either way you look at it, the book’s target audience is children and it did get published so the content might not be seen as completely child friendly, but I would go as far to say that not much is these days.

Thinking about the book in relation to the articles, I would have to say that Blake would love most of it, Locke could go either way, and Strasburger would enjoy it. Blake’s poem “Introduction”, we read depicts the fantasy of a blissful, happy childhood. The end of the poem speaks of such childish fantasy: “And I made a rural pen,/And I stained the water clear,/And I wrote my happy songs/Every child may joy to hear” (Blake). The language is light and joyful which is compounded by the fact that one cannot simply stain water clear and the last line itself speaks on how children should be. Locke is a fickle read because he seems bent on religion, manners, and other such things, but also speaks of how children should be taught to dance and play freely (except for with the servant children).He seems to find that there is a fine line with children being children and children growing up: “For, as for the children themselves, they are never one jot better’d by such occasional lectures. They at other times should be shewn what to do, and by reiterated actions be fashion’d beforehand into the practice of what is fit and becoming, and not told and talk’d to do upon the spot, of what they have never been accustom’d nor know how to do as they should” (Locke). Locke seems to see both sides as beneficial for the process of growing up, but also tells of how parents should stay involved with their children in the growing up process instead of just telling them what to do, show them what to do and explain it. We finish with Strasburger, who sees children as sponges who, for good or bad, soak up anything and everything they can read, view, or hear: “Parents experience this with exhaustion sometimes, as their infant daughter puts one more object in her mouth or their preschool son asks for the twentieth time, “What’s that?” or “Why?” Such curiosity is a hallmark of childhood and is celebrated by educators” (Strasburger). Strasburger would say that Silverstein’s book would be good for the imagination and growing of a child because they are reading as well as learning social graces (does and don’ts) and other childlike delights, but also that the parents should stay involved in making sure that they child understand questionable material.

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One thought on “In the Attic

  1. Good job on this! I think your examples lack a little bit of coherence with the book you chose, but I can still see how the beliefs about children and growing up tie in between the Enlightenment examples and the modern day examples you used.

    Grade: S

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