When our daughter was almost five, I read Peter Pan aloud to her. A chapter at a time, snuggled side by side, her newborn brother napping in my arms. Now, two years later, she visits Peter Pan and his wily comrades again, on her own solo adventure.
We entered the realm of Neverland through the classic original Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, written as a fairy play in 1904. I watched this grand play as a little girl, with Peter Pan flying above the stage from ropes and pulleys. The magic of the theater erased those ropes, and all I saw was the magic of the story. I was drawn into the land of mermaids and fairies, magical flight, and especially the underground cozy tree root house where Peter and the Lost Boys hid out. The adventures of both pirates and fairies resonate with children so it comes as little surprise that this story has endeared young imaginations for so many generations.
Pirates and treasure often intermingle in the pages of pirate adventure books. Here in Peter Pan however, treasure is not to be found in a chest buried anywhere. It can't be searched for using any map. Treasure will be found in Neverland, but it can't be held in one's hand. The treasure of Neverland is the treasure of childhood. Of boys at play in the woods. Of pirate duels. Of Indian encounters. Of being able to fly. The story is of children at play, pretending.
The treasure of childhood imagination.
Peter tells Wendy that the way to Neverland is, "second to the right and straight on 'til morning." The way to adventure is left page then right and straight on 'til bedtime. Books are the treasure of adventure, the treasure to fly to places found on the pages. The treasure of imagination. The treasure of childhood.
After pirate stories and pretend pirate play, are you little pirates hungry for lunch? Visit the library to dig up some healthy, and funny, pirate grub in Mark Northeast's book Funky Lunch: Happy Food for Happy Children.