It’s funny how many adults and educators assume that children only want to laugh.

They only want to have fun.

I did too.

When I first began school presentations I assumed that the funny stories would be the ones that would reach the children the best.

That perhaps I’d have to coax them into being interested in more altruistic story lines like The Roses in My Carpets.

I guess it goes back to that teacher I overhead in Cambridge, MA, when I was at the Children’s Literature New England conference back in the summer of 1996.

I had read out an early draft of The Roses in My Carpets and I overheard her saying to another lady, “…yeah but what kind of kids would like it?”

We underestimate the altruistic streak that exists in so many kids. I mean what else are superhero stories about? Except helping other people?

I’ve been doing workshops after school as part of the Toronto Public Library’s Sophie’s Studio. They’re free workshops designed to encourage the creativity and writing skills of the kids who enroll.

About eighteen kids have been coming every Wednesday afternoon from 4-5:30. And it’s tough!

It’s got to be engaging because as an after school program, these kids don’t have to be there!

Well there was one kid who definitely didn’t want to be there!

He spent most of the time, not participating, reading his comic book instead.

Part of the program I do with the kids includes my The Roses in My Carpets presentation because it really illustrates the creative process.

I thought I’d have to trim it for the purpose because the juicy part that applied was really about how I wrote the story, the inspiration behind it, not all the social studies bits.

One of the kids in the group whose story was getting off to a bit of slow start sat for most of the presentation with her hand over her mouth and a look of shock on her face.

And this whole group–very gregarious at times–were totally silent, and the little disengaged kid who was being forced to come, he sat right in front, and for the first time, he had his eyes wide open and was totally engrossed.

At the beginning of the presentation I asked them, “Who wants to do some good with the stories they write?”

ALL of them put up their hands!

All of them!

And that surprised me, and then I thought no, it shouldn’t. Because here I’d been guilty of the same thing.

Underestimating these kids!

Well I only have one more session with them.

I always learn so much from the kids in the workshop! And this time is no exception.

Thing is, kids really do respond to good art.

We might think they won’t get it, but on some deep level they do.

Reminds me of when my son was only two years old and he found Pride & Prejudice very interesting. Pride and Prejudice! With Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy!!!

We need to give the kids access to not only silly humorous stories, but to deeper more profound stories!

Think of it this way, we don’t always like the silly stuff! Sometimes we, as adults yearn for something that will really challenge us, spiritually and intellectually!

Doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate Captain Underpants and a good fart joke. Just that I also long for something more wholesome.

Our tastes, as well as the tastes of children, run the gamut.

Do not underestimate them!!!