Children’s literature is the vehicle through which we explore the great existential question of childhood “What shall we do now”? In fact, this question is central to our imaginative makeup and intellectual development as children. In fairytales, as I have discussed before, the call to action is THE key element drawing not only the hero deeper into the jounrey but also the reader. It is the call to action which underpins the heroic journey and is the pre-requisite for transformation. When a child asks “What shall we do now” he or she is seeking out that heroic call to action in a deeply profound way. Adults would do well to remember that sublime childhood feelining of desperately needing something to do, but not just any something. By asking the question we open ourselves up to the mysterious call of imagination, be it the still small voice of the attention getting thunderclap and only by first asking, do we ever hope of receiving.
My thoughts here were inspired by the book “Enchanted Hunters” by Maria Warner.
British psychotherapist Adam Phillips expounds on this in some detail.
Joseph Campbel explores the nature of the call to action in myth and folklore in great detail.
American poet and philosopher Robert Bly deals with the Call to Action in his book “Iron John” which uses the fairy tale motif of the Hairy man to explore the masculine journey through mythic meaning.