Celebrated children's author Michael Morpurgo has published a brand new translation of the famous French children’s book Le Petit Prince. It is an astonishing story about imagination, adventure, and the bigger questions of life.
The story is appeals widely to both adults and children - it is simultaneously a reminder to ‘grown-ups’ that they were once a child, and an adventurous exploration of the universe for children. Morpurgo writes in his foreword:
It is surprising to find such profound concepts in a children’s book. But it goes to show that it is the power of the story itself that incites the imagination.
I recently attended an event at L’Institut Français where Morpurgo was speaking about his new translation. He spoke insightfully about the importance of taking children and their imagination seriously. He stressed how it is more important now than ever before to listen to the unique perception of the world that children have - something, as the book hints at, is all too easily lost as we move into adulthood.
As a tutor I try to bring in these creative aspects into the more academic subjects. Reading stories will help with understanding them - and so will have a knock on effect into other academic areas such as comprehension. It may not be as quantifiable as a test result, but a child’s ability to read and create stories is a vital part of their academic development and has a hugely positive impact on learning.
No one can write a fantastic story if they haven’t first read one. During the time I have been teaching I have certainly found that the most avid readers are the most enthusiastic learners and the best story writers. Once a child has caught the reading bug they tend not to stop! When children have stories in their heads, they instinctively understand how they work and what is possible for them in their own story writing. Stories and reading are a hugely important parts of a child’s education - especially in the early years. My own passion for writing and stories certainly came from a very young age and influences every aspect of my working life today - as an academic, a teacher, and an actor.
Morpurgo says that ‘great books can change us,’ and I wholeheartedly agree. At whatever age, the stories that we immerse ourselves in can have a huge impact on our lives and our education. The Little Prince is an astonishing story that has changed many people’s lives, and Morpurgo’s new translation brings it to life even further, encouraging people to appreciate and celebrate their creativity as an important part of their life and academic development.
Written by Rose Reade