A Sunday-morning browse through this and that sometimes reaps rich rewards, serendipitously joining hands to encapsulate the Point of Everything. In the case of this morning, the Point of Everything-Dirt-Lane.
In Maria Popova's Brainpickings we find an inspiring line from American poet, critic, essayist and short-story writer Laura Riding: "A child should be allowed to take as long as she needs for knowing everything about herself, which is the same as learning to be herself".
In The Guardian Weekly George Monibot wonders why our schools continue to teach children to become useful cogs in a machine, when actual machines are increasingly taking over the tasks of useful human cogs. "Our schools teach skills that are redundant and counter-productive. Our children suffer this life-denying, dehumanising system for nothing."
Again in The Guardian Weekly, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie reminds us that "the more emotionally provocative an experience, the more likely the neurobiological systems involved in making memory will ensure you remember it", and that the point of memory is not to hoard data, but to gain wisdom: "past experiences ... make you more adaptive in the here and now".
Hence the urgent and abiding need for a broadly diverse, deep, rich, layered, nuanced and challenging range of emotional representations in both words and images.
The current trend for warm, sweet and "awww"-inspiring picture-books - in which theme, message and plot may vary, but in which the same emotional bandwidth is generally replicated - does our young compatriots a disservice. Books are where we (both young and non-young) experience scenarios and feelings in a safe way, and perhaps also learn something while we are at it. But if the message is regularly conveyed via the same emotional bandwidth, to what extent will the neurological processes identify a given message-experience as a standout emotional event to be remembered for future reference?
Young readers need aesthetic objects (books, words, pictures) that nudge, tweak, awaken emotions beyond their immediate experience, experiences that leave them wondering and curious, perhaps even vaguely discomfited. And then they need the timeand hands-off support that allows them to ponder, to feel, to roam their internal selves in their own ways and at their own leisure, allowing the vivid aesthetic-emotional experience to become a vivid memory from which to draw deep and lasting wisdom.
At Dirt Lane Press, this is our ultimate aim.