Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Magic of Children

I just returned from participating in the 48th annual Warrensburg Children's Literature Festival, and I want to say that it was an honor and a pleasure to get to stand before a classroom of youngsters and  take them on a journey with me.

...Imagine you're a cowboy.

 It's December, and you and your buddy are riding on the Colorado mesa searching for stray cattle.

And then it starts to snow...

I loved watching them dive deep into the scene. Loved introducing them to one of my most favorite places on the planet, Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, and incidentally, the setting for my latest book for middle graders, The Flight of the Cliff Bird.

Their eyes were alight with the magic of imagination, wide with wonder, and for those few brief moments, we became cliff dwellers together.

The classroom fades, and it is just us and the scent of sagebrush and the comfort of sun-warmed sandstone at our backs. The cliff dwellings begin to glow with the light of cooking fires and a cool wind sweeps up from the canyon floor.

Don't let anyone tell you that this generation of children is somehow lesser. Somehow lacking. Yes, they're dealing with elements that we of earlier generations did not--electronic games, images, accessibility beyond belief.

But consider this: they are dealing with the challenges they have been handed. Denial is not a good option. Even if they were to live the electronics-free lifestyle of earlier days, when they emerge into the real world at age 18, they would be handicapped to deal with the freedom and opportunities of a world that is constantly progressing. Better, then, to help them learn to steward those freedoms.

They are not a lesser generation. I saw in these children the same intelligent wonder, the same innate questioning, the same ability to explore the unknown and unseen as that of children from earlier decades. I'm excited for them and for the world which they will in their turn curate for a generation not yet born.

Their eyes were full of wonder and hope, and although I was taking them on a journey back in time, they left me with renewed expectation for the future.