In this episode, I am joined by Ciara O’Siorain to talk about the exploration of what it means to be ‘childlike’ through curated stories and narratives. Ciara is currently a Masters in Philosophy student in Trinity College Dublin studying Children’s Literature. She is also the executive editor of ‘Childlike’: A Journal of Childhood.
Ciara begins by explaining her passion for children’s literature and how certain childhoods are excluded, or made abnormal in literature texts. She interrogates the more commonplace ideals of the ‘real child’ in literature and texts alongside the messier bits of childhood.
We talk about the horror lens through which children’s stories and folk tales are depicted and how children are exposed to negative tropes and stigmas such as trauma, mental illness, depression and schizophrenia, through these stories in some sort of effort to instill a sense of morality and good in children, rather than deal with the realities of life many children experience in a more positive and healthy way. The ends of the text are often disconnected and rarely provide a positive outcome as to how to get out of these situations.
Ciara talks about what inspired her to start the Childlike journal. She was very inspired by the theories that she was studying and the concept of what really is ‘childhood’? She discusses the differences between the negative connotation of ‘childish’ and the positive and creative connotation of being ‘childlike’. What do we think of children and the concepts of childhood?
Ciara explains the themes for contributions to the journal through concepts that she is reading and questioning about childhood, herself. She asks contributors to consider their relationships with childhood. What do they hold dear and what do they hope will come from their submissions? The themes center around relationships, normalities and abnormalities, and responses from open surveys and interviews that she conducts. She talks about her favorite survey responses and the deep questions that were generated from the conversation. The short stories and reflections present very moving and intimate depictions of childhood and memories of childhood.
Ciara believes that the way the writing moves the authors and the reader is the whole point. Rather than reading something in static form, these stories could be anyone’s history, anyone’s story. They are meant to provoke thought and relate to some element of the stories. She talks about her hope for the themes and the ‘state of childhood’ in the next issue, as well.
We discuss the call and process for those interested in contributing to the journal. Whether it is art, poetry, short stories or any other medium, she wants to see it! She is open to international perspectives, as well. Ciara recommends some incredible books and childhood literature that anyone interested in children’s literature should check out. Cameron Garrett, Oliver Jeffers, Alison Bechtel, GD Baker, and several more.
Ciara’s words of wisdom? When it comes to writing, if you’ve outgrown the pond (of experience and expertise) that you’ve been living in, and you find yourself in a bigger pond which is terrifying and scary… you’re there for a reason! Growth is meant to be embraced. Come, listen and learn!
You can reach Ciara O’Siorain or check out Childlike, the journal here:
Childlike Issue 1: https://issuu.com/childlikejournal/docs/18_november_2020_
Childlike Issue 2: https://issuu.com/childlikejournal/docs/_childlike_issue_2_