I’ve always been a firm believer in the notion that the past is something to hold on to, interpret, and learn from. Which is why I really loved reading this piece from NPR written by Norton Juster, author of the 1961 classic, The Phantom Tollbooth. Fifty years after its debut release, Juster looks back at the road that led him to create what was and continues to be one of the leading classics for young readers. I myself can remember reading it as a child.
What really resonated with me in this piece was Juster’s own experiences with reluctant publishers, who felt that Phantom’s vocabulary and themes were too lofty and would be lost on young readers. His response?
There is no such thing as a difficult word. There are only words you don’t know yet…Children are still the same as they’ve always been. They still get bored and confused, and still struggle to figure out the important questions of life.
In thinking this through, there’s no doubt that Juster’s words withstand the passage of time. With the publishing world changing as much as it has been lately, it’s always comforting to see that there are still ideals that hold true today.