Friday, September 11, 2015

What Frances Hodgson Burnett Means to Me

By Kelly Bridgewater

Continuing with my theme of authors that have helped shape who I am today as a writer and an avid reader, today I’m going to discuss Frances Hodgson Burnett. If you missed any of the other five entries that encompass 2015, please visit my past posts. I have talked about C.S. Lewis, J.R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alexandre Dumas.

Frances Hodgson Burnett is an English writer who wrote books for young adults. The Lost Prince, The Secret Garden, and The Little Princess are among the three most popular ones, and the ones I loved as a little child.

The stories appeared simple on the surface, but as you delve deeper, they were masterfully written with lessons for the young readers to unbury.

While reading The Secret Garden, I love traveling around the Misselthwaite Manor with Mary as she uncovered a hidden key in an abandoned part of the huge house. She used the key to open and bring life back to a hidden garden. Along the way, she learned to love and be loved by her cousin, Colin, and her uncle, Mr. Craven.

The Little Princess showed the hardship of the lower class among the wealthy. Poor Sarah believed in stories such much that even when her father was announced dead, she still captivated the servant girl, Becky, with stories to pass the horrible, cold nights while they were both trapped in the attic as a curiosity from Ms. Minchin.

I loved these stories as a child and still read them to my boys and my niece. My father also purchased the leather bound editions from Barnes and Nobles for me. They sit next to my edition of Sherlock Holmes and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Frances Hodgson Burnett taught me that if a child’s story is written well then it can be read by any age. Like C. S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” This is proven by J. K. Rowling with her Harry Potter masterpieces that have been enjoyed by young adults and adults alike. I completely agree with C.S. Lewis, if an adult can’t return to the books they enjoyed as a child, then the story wasn’t well-written to begin with. Being a parent of three small boys, I want my children to return to the stories that have captured their heart when they were innocent and young. A simple written story can capture the imagination and steal the hearts of the readers, which any great story should do.

Have you ever read any of the books mentioned by Frances Hodgson Burnett? What books do you return to that you read as a child?

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