14 Nov 2011

The Little Prince

This is our summer read-aloud. Isn't this pop-up The Little Prince just divine?

Personally I dislike the existential philosophy that pervades this book - the plight of the individual in an unfathomable universe. The book tells us that only children know what is important in life and that you can find the truth if you want it with all your heart.

On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. ("It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.")
The little prince searches for meaning in a seemingly meaningless universe, but as Christians, we know the chief end of man - we know why we're here. We have the Bible to tell us right from wrong. We know what is important. We regard God as the centre of the universe - not man.

The philosophy of this book stopped me reading it to Jemimah for a time, and yet, despite my misgivings, I really wanted her to know and to enjoy the good bits of this story - the delightful characters, for example - as well as to consider some of the questions that the book raises - from a Christian point-of-view not an existentialist one. Still, I dithered.

The Little Prince was voted 'Best Book of the 20th C' in France, and sells over a million copies a year, almost 60 years after publication. It is the most read and most translated book in the French language. It is much quoted, and has been adapted to stage, screen, ballet and opera. Eventually it was this significant link with French cultural identity that persuaded me to at least give it a go. It seemed an integral link for a full study of French language and culture.

So far we're enjoying it. We've looked at some important questions - What is the difference between reality and make-believe? Can a child's perception of something be more real than an adult's? What is Jesus saying in Matthew 18?
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18: 3-5 NIV
What about the words of the Teacher in Ecclesiastes?
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1: 2 NIV
Significantly, when I asked Jemimah what the picture was of she said it was a snake that had eaten something. To me it looked like a hat. What does this say? Are adults blind to the truth? (Was blind but now I see...)

Have you read The Little Prince to your kids? Did they like it? Did you? Did it raise interesting questions? Is it okay to read books to your kids that espouse a philosophy different from your own? Talk to me.


  1. I love this book ~ & I've read it too all of mine with no regard for the philosophical theories! Surprise, surprise. I suspect we ask slightly different questions. ☺

    I do, however, dislike the ending ~ which I found incredibly untruthful even as a child. My prosaic ones just thought it stupid because it's not real. Don't underestimate Jemimah. I'm quite sure she is capable of dealing well with the interesting naunces in this book. It is beautifully written!

  2. Ah, thanks for replying, Ganeida - I thought I'd offended everyone. Somehow that worries me more than it should. I should have known you'd approve. Thank you.

  3. I haven't yet. My oldest would hate it. My next is hard to predict, but with her I'm hesitant. I was going to use it for our made-up first grade year, but the ending stopped me. My others are too young. We do read books with whose philosophy we do not agree. It depends on how far afield they go! lol And how capable my child is.

  4. Jeanne: I'm no gauge ~ I'm a Lit. Major & I'm afraid I have failed to grasp why just because something isn't Christian in outlook it shouldn't be read. What an awful sentence! Early & not enough caffine in the system. ☺ Enjoy!

  5. We have not done it yet. I have felt ds to be a little young for it. Personally, I don't like it--but (other than "My Father's Dragon" trilogy) it is the only English chapter book our library stocks.

  6. HI Jeanne, I have found this review as I have borrowed this book off our good friend Spencer and I am going to slot it in as a read-aloud to both of my children. Do you have any advice or more opinions on this book? I would love to hear your full review. Thank you in advance. xxx


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...