Imaginary Worlds from Chronicles of Narnia to Doctor Who

When I was little, I absolutely loved the Chronicles of Narnia. My dad read the series aloud to us kids several times, and once I learned to read I read them through additional times myself. I memorized the stories and acted them out with my siblings. I always played Susan, of course.

Sometimes we would go to Narnia through the pools, just like in Magician’s Nephew. We made the yellow and green rings out of wire and beads, and used them to take that journey. We held onto them like they were magic tokens, taking us to an imaginary world. We created story lines and acted out fantastical adventures.

I think there’s something about being a kid and creating imaginary worlds. Oh, it’s not that adults can’t create such worlds. It’s just that they’re generally too busy handing everything adults have to handle to invest the amount of time into that children can. (It’s also more acceptable for children to walk around pretending that cardboard boxes are reindeer than it is for adults to do so.) The memories I have of running through the backyard with my siblings, wielding imaginary swords and fighting off the White Witch or heading out on an imaginary ship towards the Lone Islands are ones I will treasure forever.

Today, I am the adult with children of my own. Today, it is my daughter Sally who travels to imaginary worlds. But they’re not, well, the same worlds I traveled to. See, I had yellow and green rings; Sally has a TARDIS.

Sally and I made her TARDIS out of a cardboard appliance box. We cut out doors and painted it blue, carefully outlining the paneling and the windows. We even recorded the TARDIS sound effect so that Sally can play it when she gets inside. We painted the TARDIS controls on the inside of the box. Sally loves her TARDIS. And of course, along with the TARDIS had to come a screwdriver. A miniature flashlight did the trick.

It’s fascinating to watch Sally do the same imaginative sort of things I did when I was a child. She tells me where she is going and then gets into her TARDIS, closes the door, and plays the TARDIS sound effect. When she gets out, everything is something it’s not. “I need to figure out what’s wrong,” she says, and insists on being called Doctor. Sometimes she saves Christmas. Sometimes she finds aliens in her favorite children’s museum, and gets rid of them. Sometimes she repeats old adventures. What the green and yellow rings were for me, the TARDIS is for Sally.

As her baby brother grows, Sally will probably include him in her adventures as well. And over time, Sally will probably enter additional imaginary worlds. I plan to read both the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter aloud to her, and when she’s older she’ll likely read The Lord of the Rings. She’ll also watch Star Wars. I expect she’ll have a rich childhood of imagination and adventure, and like her mother, she’ll probably never entirely lose her love of imaginary worlds. To be honest, our capacity for a vast imagination is one of the things I love most about being human.

How about you? What imaginary worlds did you visit as a child? What imaginary worlds do your children visit, if you have them?

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Ubi Dubium

    Narnia was great. I love that you played Susan, since she’s the one who eventually deconverted!

    For me as a kid, there was also OZ, the tiny world of The Borrowers, Middle Earth, heading off on daring mousey adventures with Miss Bianca and lots and lots of Star Trek and other science fiction.

    When my kids were younger, it was Harry Potter, all the way. Now, when they are off to another world, they are catching Pokemon, hanging out with Yugimoto and Danny Phantom, and building their own imaginary worlds in Minecraft. Sometimes I find myself taking a mental vacation to Myst Island. With video games, plunging into an imaginary world is much more immersive now.

    And my Wii-mote is shaped like a sonic screwdriver. Allons-y!

    • BringTheNoise

      And my Wii-mote is shaped like a sonic screwdriver. Allons-y!

      So. Jealous. I kept seeing that at Christmas time, but couldn’t justify the expense.

      As a kid, I never had any particular worlds I remember visiting particularly often (this might be due to my hyperactivity, which wasn’t caught until I was about 8 or 9). Whatever TV show I had just watched or book or comic I had just read, I immediately wanted to be part of – sometimes even while the show was still on. Thundercats, Bucky O’Hare, WCW, Power Rangers, Star Trek, Thomas the Tank Engine…

      • Theodore Seeber has quite a collection of sonic screwdrivers.

  • Katherine Lorraine, Tortue du Désert avec un Coupe-Boulon

    I didn’t visit an imaginary world. I made one up. I’m writing at least nine novels based on that imaginary world. It’s been built up over the past 15 years to become a robust, living, breathing world with a rich history and great cultures.

    • Jayn

      Yeah, I tended not to play in the imaginary worlds I visited, but made up different ones for playtime. Still, I used to watch the Wizard of Oz every morning before school, then Sailor Moon, bought nearly ALL the Animorphs books (started having money issues towards the end, so I never got to finish the series), and scoured the libraries for Pern novels. I did participate in a Pern MUD for a short period, joined the Harper Hall and got a pet dragonling. There’s a ton of other fictional universes I’m a fan of, but those were the biggest fandoms I had as a child.

  • MargueriteF

    I was wild about “Doctor Who” when I was a kid. (Still am… I have a large cardboard TARDIS sitting in the corner of my office. Cardboard TARDISes aren’t just for kids!) I also loved Oz and Wonderland, and from the time I was in junior high, Barsoom. My kids love Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, Pokemon, Doctor Who, and numerous fantasy series (Inheritance and Warriors have been two of the big recent things). Not only do they like to read, but we watch TV shows together, and the ones we all like become part of our family’s culture and language. (“I’m going to the store. Come along, Pond!”)

    • Slow Learner

      I have a TARDIS mug for drinking from. Best. Christmas present. Ever.

      Allons-y, Alonso!

      • Nea

        I bought myself a TARDIS water bottle, the metal kind. It’s great!

  • Niemand

    My daughter’s imaginary world has a magic dog and a lot of portals to other times in it. Fortunately, the heroine’s father is a historian and can cope with the inevitable refugees from various time periods. I usually start the stories, but she takes over. I hope she’ll write some of them down some day because the alternate history is hilarious.

    I loved Tolkien when I was young. Still do in fact. One thing I love about Tolkien’s writing is that his world is, as far as I can tell, internally consistent. Distances don’t suddenly change at random, characters are reasonably internally consistent (or their inconsistency makes some sort of sense), etc. The lack of similar consistency is a major grievance for me in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s otherwise good Darkover series. I’m also fond of Dr. Who and Star Trek. But it’s Bujold’s world that I would move to if I had a chance to move to any fictional world. What fictional world would you move to if you could?

  • Nea

    I solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, tessered with Meg and Charles Wallace, and journeyed into space with my friends as the crew of the Enterprise. (I got to be Spock.)

    But Narnia has a very special place in my heart. I have very clear memories of my mother reading them to me and my sibling, and of being upset when she ran out. (“There aren’t any more.” “Then I’ll write more!”) But I have an even clearer memory of finding the books myself in the library. You see, I’d gotten it into my head that the books that parents read to kids came from somewhere that only parents had access to. And there was Narnia, all of Narnia, where *I* could pick it up any time I wanted and *I* could revisit all on my own. It was the most heady sense of joy, freedom, and even power that I’ve ever had in my life.

    The only other time in my life I’ve come close to feeling like that was discovering that there was a sequel to Wrinkle in Time. Another whole adventure! I burst into tears and clutched it to me at the Scholastic book sale and used my lunch money to buy it. Going hungry was SO WORTH IT!

    I’m all grown up now, and I’m even lucky enough to own the entire trilogy autographed to me by Madeline L’Engle. But the pleasure of them, even the happiness of handing them to Ms. L’Engle and watching her sign, is NOTHING compared to the wild exultation of finding Wind in the Door and the Narnia series for myself.

  • Nea

    PS – I’m a massive Doctor Who geek in real life. When the series came back, I kept telling people that I felt like I was 14 again – only with a *much* better allowance and no curfew!

  • Ibis3

    Some of my fave imaginary worlds came from reading Narnia (which I loved), Watership Down, A Wrinkle in Time, The Dark is Rising, Time Cat, Pern, Earthsea, LotR, Xanth, Shannara, etc. etc. (I was a *very* prolific reader). I also watched a lot of Star Trek. But the only one I remember actually playing out was Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang (me and my best friend took turns playing Fearless O’Toole and Intrepid Shapiro). When I was older, I played Dungeons and Dragons. All my other pretend worlds were ones I made up: I played a rebel soldier named Mackenzie, I was a spy, I was a mountain lion mother in a zoo (yeah, very weird, I know!), I was a mermaid princess (this was *long* before Disney and I’d not read HCA). And like, Katherine, I created an entire civilisation with different cultures and a few hundred named characters that was built up over decades (though mine was developed with a friend with whom I’m currently estranged).

  • Ibis3

    Oh my mother (who is now 70) told me of when she and her sisters were little and they played Nancy Drew and got themselves all worked up when they explored someone’s farm and made out like the old equipment (an old combine or something probably) they discovered in an abandoned out building was for counterfeiting money and the gangsters were going to come and find them snooping. Ha!

  • Kit

    Most of the above already mentioned, of course, but I have to throw in a strong recommendation (if you’re taking them!) for Tamora Pierce’s books. Tamora Pierce wrote a series of books in the 1980s about a girl who goes off to become a knight (The Song of the Lioness) for a pre-teen audience, and is one of the forerunners of feminist fantasy. I LOVED them as a kid because it showed me, over and over and over again, that girls can do everything boys can do and sometimes it’ll take a little more work but we’re not INTRINSICALLY worse at any of it. Keladry of Mindelan (Protector of the Small) remains one of my top role models today :D

    • Christine

      The problem with Tamora Pierce is that the writing and complexity is aimed at a much younger audience than the content is. My library has them in the children’s section, and were it not for the fact that there’s sex in the books (I honestly think that if it’s explicit that the characters are having sex then the book belongs in YA) and the disturbing way that consent gets dealt with, they would be a great fit. It’s not graphic, but the sex in the Tortall books is some of the most disturbing I have ever read (and this includes rape scenes, because the implication that what Pierce is writing about is ok or good makes it a lot worse). That said, as long as you read them WITH the child and discuss, they’re totally worth it.

      • Kit

        This is true; I read them starting when I was about 12, which I think is a good age for Song of the Lioness. Most of the others I would characterize as young adult reading.

        On the other hand, I don’t think sex is something that needs to be hidden from children, either. None of the sex scenes are in any way explicit (particularly in Song of the Lioness), and I think it’s understated enough that I skated over them the first few times (I was naive, ok?).

        Tamora Pierce also has some cultural appropriation issues that I have a bigger issue with, though it hasn’t diminished my love for the books. At the end of the day, I’d read it first and decide whether you think it’s best to wait until they’re older or not.

      • Rachel Marcy (Bix)

        Oh look, we’re talking about Tamora Pierce! I think I read the Alanna and Daine books when I was nine, so the sex stuff totally went over my head. I was in it for the adventure! I totally agree that there are issues with those books that need to be discussed with kids.

        I didn’t have any imaginary games based around Tortall–although that would be awesome–but we did have a great playground structure at my elementary school, and we played a really fun game that turned the structure into a world filled with magical hazards. I think we were influenced by stuff like Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time, but it was its own world. I love seeing kids play in their own imaginary worlds.

        Also, my friend’s grandparents had an old barn filled with drying herbs and old farm equipment and antique furniture, and we played Little House on the Prairie and other historical games.

      • Christine

        My YA vs Juvenile might also be somewhat based on having read ahead of my age group. I think I moved to YA by 10 if not earlier. It’s not so much that I think we need to hide sex from kids, it’s more that generally you expect children and teens to be able to relate somewhat to the characters, and there’s a limit in difference beyond which they stop relating. (So a 12-year-old might be able to relate to a main character who’s having sex, even though I sure hope they aren’t, but an 8-year-old is going to have too much of an age gap, as well as lack the emotional maturity.

        I’m going to actually recommend them to my daughter when she get into that sort of thing, but due to the issues with consent, I recommend against them unless a parent reads them too and can talk about it with their kids. (You get more points for good gender roles if your “strong” female character isn’t talked out of her “I don’t want a boyfriend” character.)

      • Shayna

        I think I just about missed YA entirely. I know I ran through every Nancy Drew book the library had in the second grade, and I started reading Stephen King (and other novels for adults) before I turned ten. If it was fantasy, sci-fi, or horror I probably had my nose stuck in it. My friends at that age weren’t big readers like I was (and I hung out with a lot of guys) so we played a lot of TV and video game characters.

      • Rae

        If anyone’s interested in female-centered YA that doesn’t have consent issues, I highly, highly recommend Kristin Cashore’s books (the Graceling series) – they’ve got POC and LGBT characters, they’ve flipped a couple unhealthy tropes about relationships on their heads, the female protagonists make decisions about their future, their love lives, and their reproduction. Plus, the sex scenes do not have a single graphic detail, and best of all there’s even one scene in one book where a character has an outright discussion about consent when she’s faced with the dilemma that she wants to sleep with a person and there’s an unequal power dynamic between them.

        So while I might not recommend them for younger children, they’re definitely age-appropriate for middle schoolers!

  • Eamon Knight

    But how did you make the inside of the appliance box bigger than the outside? Inquiring minds want to know!

    I have a miniature TARDIS in one corner of the model railroad that I take to shows, with little figures standing in front of it representing the Doctor and his companion. Every so often there will be a kid or adult who notices it (you have to look!) and immediately recognizes it.

    My main childhood fandoms were Narnia and the Swallows & Amazons books (the latter aren’t fantasy, except for the pirates-and-explorers meta-fiction that the children engage in within the stories).

  • Marian

    For my husband and myself, as well as our siblings, it was Star Wars. Not that we pretended to be any of the characters in Star Wars… oh no, we made up our own characters and our own adventures, which frequently involved crossover with characters from the Final Fantasy video games, Greek mythology, Narnia, and the like. Sadly, we didn’t get into Harry Potter until we were a little too old to go out in the backyard and swing hockey sticks at each other, or I’m sure Harry would have figured into our adventures too.

    Hubby’s mom was my babysitter, hence why I can say we and our siblings all played the same games. My little brother and I were never happy when our mom came home from work to pick us up… the adventure was NEVER over and never even at a good stopping place. Sometimes… I really miss those days.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    I have little memories of when I was really small but I remember I dreamt of being on adventures like the characters of Enid Blyton’s novels (was a tomboy like George) or the ones in some of Jules Verne novels and my mind was completely filled with sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christies’ mysteries. I was actually pretty pissed that all the characters in my books were so much older than me (I’m referring mostly to Enid Blyton’s or Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen). I was 8 and I kinda thought that when I got to be 10 or 12 I would get to live those awesome adventures.

    When I was 10 I read the first 2 books of Harry Potter (I was so lucky because they weren’t famous in my country at that time, the edition wasn’t even the official edition and professor Sprout was a man LOL) and I sighed knowing that for much I desired it, I knew it wasn’t real and I wouldn’t receive a letter.

    I’ve been told that when I was pretty young my cousin who is called more or less Snow in Spanish convinced me than she was Snow White and she had microscopic dwarfs. We called her Snow White for years (and I still sometimes do to differentiate her form her mother who has the same name).

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      We also had many Disney movies in VHS (copied form friends’ originals mostly) but we usually preferred to the last two of the Stars Wars trilogy (we didn’t have the first one XP) or the Batman films. Although when Toy Story got out, it was that one 24/7.

      There was a spanish collection of books called The Steam Boat that I devoured but unless you are spanish, you won’t know them…

      Apart form spending my pocket money on magic and Pokemon cards and Warhammer Chaos figurines and Arts & crafts stuff, I made it my mission in life to get the whole Agatha Christie collection out of buying all her books in second hand bookstores. I got them all when I was in highschool but I’ve lent enough of them so that now I only have about 8/9 of them. you know that sentence that says to have a good library you need to have lots of friends and bad memory, I tend to be one of those friends XDD

    • Caravelle

      Ah, Enid Blyton… I loved her Famous Five series SO MUCH. It is funny to remember a time when they were all older than me and dialog like “Sure, we’ll let you all go camping in gypsy-style caravans for ten days far away on your own buying food from nearby farms, as long as the eldest (12 years old) looks after you.” “Oh, Mom, we’ll be fine, the dog will look after us !” all made perfect sense.
      Now I look at that with 21st-century adults’ eyes and I’m like, what.

      Awesome to read as a child, mind you, and I’m really glad someone was writing stories from such a child-centric point of view, but… let’s say, it’s amusing.

      That was always a weird point of contention between my younger brother and me; he hated the Famous Five, and once I read this book about a group of children going on a holiday to the beach, and they see strange going-ons happening at night on the sea, and they sneak around and spy on them and it turns out… they were just fishermen ! And the book ends there.
      And I was like, what ? Obviously those are smugglers disguised as fishermen, where is the rest of the story dammit ? And my brother was like, OH FINALLY SOME REALISM.
      I swear he was born a forty-year-old.

  • BabyRaptor

    Hell, I’m 27 and I still spend a decent amount of time in imaginary worlds. I frequently role play a character in the Fallout:Equestria universe, and have recently come up with a plot for a Dragonriders of Pern fanfic involving an original character.

    Also, I know why I never got my Hogwarts letter. I turned 11 the year Voldemort took over the Ministry, and I’m definitely a Muggleborn. There’s no way he’d have let me into his Hogwarts. So…One day the Ministry will get caught up. Is there a Hogwarts for adults?

    • Eamon Knight

      If it comes to that, model railroading is nothing but elaborate fantasy for adults (mostly old white guys, it seems), especially when they get into operations (running trains on a schedule, making deliveries and pickups, following some of the real-world collision-avoidance rule, etc).

  • Sam

    We owned a “Professor’s House” style wardrobe, so Narnia was a frequent imaginary world. We also played Nintendo games such as Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda, which included overworld maps in the manuals, so we would visit those as well.

    Another frequent activity was to draw maps of our house, and then assign certain magical properties to particular rooms. (The “lava room”, the water room, etc.) When we grew older, our magical worlds moved outside. Our backyard clubhouse became a castle, we would invade it with a snow shovel we used as a catapult. Sticks were swords, and our bikes were our horses.

    We also built elaborate Lego maps, broke out a bunch of dice, and played role-playing games featuring our Lego characters. No themes, of course… knights fought alongside spacemen and police officers.

  • Vixi Dragon

    I remember inventing worlds and games with my siblings (Jurrasic Park was my youngest brother’s favorit) but my mom documented my earlier adventures for me. I was constantly ‘reading’ stories to the adults and my mom would write them down for me. We have an old home movie of my siblings, myself (kindergarten age, I think), and our friends acting out one of my stories (costumes and all).
    My kids play knights (my girls too), Harry potter, Dr Who, and whatever Tv or movie they’ve seen recently.

  • Don F

    Davy Crockette; I was a child of the 50s. My folks somehow even scraped up enough money to buy me a “coonskin” cap! Everything else was in my head . . . .

  • Larry Clapp

    I read lots and lots of Heinlein. Have Spacesuit, Will Travel at least 8 times by the time I was 10 (after that I stopped counting :), and whatever else I could get my hands on. Lots of other sf and fantasy, typically courtesy my sister’s book collection. Asimov’s Foundation series. Thomas Covenant. Some of the Shannara books. I read Niven’s Ringworld several times. Lovecraft. As for worlds of my own: Blocks. Legos. Erector Sets. Computer programming. (Funny, I’d never thought of that progression before, but there it is. :) Oh, and D&D. Trek and other sf on TV, of course, and discovered Doctor Who in high school (Tom Baker FTW! :). Still a fan.

    • Ubi Dubium

      It was Heinlein’s “Red Planet” for me, around 5th-6th grade. I was just crazy about Willis the bouncer. He was small and fun and silly and turned out to be way more important than anybody initially realized, so I think he was kind of a role model for me.

  • Michelle

    I was Harry potter and Buffy. I actually feel like I was most imaginative about it in middle school though- I had thousand-page-long HP/Buffy/me and my friends crossover fan fictions written in script format with my best friend. We’d trade the notebook back and fourth all day at school, writing during class (oops…) and then one of us would take it home for the night. It was always an awesome treat to read what the other had written first thing in the morning on the playground. The most amusing thing was that our friends who did not care for either series were ALL caught up in the story. So much fun. I still have one of the notebooks… It’s awful but so sweet.

  • A Reader

    I’m in love with both of these stories, although I haven’t read the Narnia books since I was really little. Maybe it’s time to check them out again :) And as for Doctor Who, my text tone is the TARDIS sound…so you know I’m not *too* obsessed. (A minor obsession never hurt, right?)
    When she’s older, Sally should check out the Hunger Games too. I felt pretty meh about the movie, but I love the books.

  • M

    My sister and I “wrote plays” and performed them for my parents. We were always princesses (just because in fairy tales, all the women are princesses) and had adventures and rescued other people. Plus being a princess meant you were powerful- you were in line for a throne! You gave orders and other people followed them.

    As for what I read- oh tons of things. Earthsea, Narnia, Shannara, Darkover, Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series, Pern, Valdemar, Larry Niven’s Ringworld, the Foundation series, Andre Norton (my mom recommended Norton as her favorite author when I was 10. Those are NOT kid’s books …), Lord of the Rings, and many others. We had a big book of illustrated fairy tales from around the world, grouped by category: the Cinderella-type stories were one chapter. I wound up reading Song of the Lioness as an adult and enjoyed it. I read a bit of Heinlein, but “Friday” put me off his work, probably for good.

  • Knayt

    I mostly avoided directly playing in other people’s worlds. That said, I do distinctly remember imaginative play in imaginative worlds, and I do distinctly remember a few influences. Alan Dean Foster’s work was particularly major among them (I never really bothered staying in the kids section of the library, though I totally missed most of the ways many of his books really weren’t kid friendly), as were various educational videogames (Operation Neptune was among them). I also had my mother’s stories about playing D&D when she was younger, my father’s stories he made up for my younger brother and I, and Tolkien’s work, particularly The Hobbit, The Silimarillion, and Roverandom.

    The biggest one though? I was a huge nerd, and back in first grade I routinely brought the Periodic Table of Elements onto the playground with me. Several friends and I had a game where we pretended to be these sort of odd warrior-heroes, wearing arm bands made of various metals (I distinctly remember rubidium coming up) that gradually improved, which contained within them computer chips that gave us magic powers. Almost every recess for a few years, we played this game, and it was quite fun. It also involved referencing the Periodic Table with some frequency, and in retrospect might have something to do with my majoring in chemical engineering.

    • Mogg

      May I just say that is possibly the best kid’s game I’ve ever heard of? Awesome!

      For me, it was the Silver Brumby books (very Australian), Narnia, Tolkien (I read The Hobbit when I was eight or nine, and had read LotR by the time I was 11), every one of Heinlein’s younger reader books I could lay my hands on over and over and over, Watership Down, Pern (what lonely kid doesn’t want a telapathic dragon which will listen only to you and can teleport you away?) and McCaffery’s other books, particularly Doona, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Earthsea, A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, John Wyndham’s books and pretty much anything with a bent to adventure, fantasy/sci fi, and mystery. I was obsessed with Doctor Who (I had a long scarf and floppy black hat like Tom Baker’s Doctor), loved the Japanese sci-fi manga cartoons like Astroboy and Star Blazers to the point where I had a cape which I had to wear when I was watching Battle of the Planets, and in my teen years was also a huge Star Trek TNG fan. Star Wars was pretty much compulsory to be into at my first primary school, and we used to climb the trees (when the teachers weren’t around) and pretend to be ewoks – just a bit lame! I was and still am a prolific reader and often re-read my favourites over and over. I think I was about 9 or 10 when I first read the Pern books, and the sex completely went over my head. I’m fairly certain my mother didn’t know about the homosexual relationships in them, either! In fact, I’m pretty certain my mother didn’t know a lot of what I was reading, and that was a very, very good thing. I genuinely credit reading outside of church-approved boundaries with saving my life.

    • Caravelle

      That is such a great idea I can’t believe nobody has ever thought of building a children’s franchise off this. I can totally see how you can make Power Rangers-style team out of different columns of the table, along with a Pokemon-style evolutionary system as you go down the table.

      … And in like the third season they’d find a new world that contained all the f-orbital metals… Which suggests the first team members would be Hydrogen and Helium, which I think is appropriate. Hydrogen being all energetic and trouble making and Helium being thoughtful and smart. And of course by that logic I’m really looking forward to the late season when the Actinides and Lanthanides turn up, if the show hasn’t jumped the shark by then. Radioactivity would be cool too; it would first show up in one or two overpowered characters (or power levels for old characters, looking at you Helium/Radon), and two seasons later they’d have gotten to the Lanthanides and everyone would be radioactive. Very typical…

      Actually now I’m wondering why the Pretty Cure franchise hasn’t done this yet. Surely they’ve gone through every other thematic grouping there is by now. (Hell, Cure Black and Cure White might just as well be called Hydrogen and Helium, the way I described them)

      I’ve got to hand it to you Knayt, that is an awesome imaginary world. I loved the Periodic Table as a teen but never made imaginary worlds out of it. (morphisms, matrices and vector spaces now… Does it count if you’re building imaginary worlds in university ?)

  • Christine

    Oh, it’s not that adults can’t create such worlds. It’s just that they’re generally too busy handing everything adults have to handle to invest the amount of time into that children can.
    Clearly you have not spent much time in the company of cosplayers and re-enactors :).

  • Stephanie

    I also played Susan growing up! (She was always my favorite, and after I read The Last Battle, I couldn’t stand to revisit any of the Pevensie books for years…I would have liked to give C.S. Lewis a piece of my mind!)

  • Rae

    Narnia was definitely one, and the first time I moved in with one of my college roommates she found a closet and yelled “we’re going to Narnia!” and we all piled in :-) Star Trek was another one, and for a while I lived near Bronson Canyon in Los Angeles so it wasn’t just an imaginary world, I could go there and actually see what I saw on TV which was SO amazing, and when I was a preteen, Middle-Earth was (and still is) my favorite because I’d always be wandering around in the woods or hanging out in a tree reading.

    Now, cosplay and fanfiction and other parts of fandom are the way that I, as an adult, enjoy playing around in imaginary worlds. Because as your understanding of the imaginary world and the characters becomes more complex, sticks and boxes just aren’t what you need to engage on that level.

  • AmyC

    Comic books were the settings for my imaginary world. I would usually pretend to be some mutant on the run from the law while simultaneously saving the world from Dr. Doom or Braniac or Magneto. We watched all sorts of sci-fi and adventure series, but the ones I loved to escape to the most were all from comic books.

  • Anonymous

    When I was a kid, I always used to make up my own stories and then act them out with my siblings and cousins, we never really played games from other fictional worlds, except for when we used to play Pokemon at school.

    I remember one game where we were half human, half animal mutants, and another one where we were out in the woods pretending to be spies, or wild children who ran away from home to live in the woods. We pretended to be parents with our dolls, even from being little, I had decided my dolls were adopted (I have always hated the idea of giving birth or being pregnant), and I would always have loads of them, as for some reason I was obsessed with large families, which led me here. We would play school, and take it in turns being the teacher, and taking on the personalities of characters we made up in our stories.

    I also used to write a diary, but I turned it into fanfiction as I thought my day was pretty boring, so it would have things like what I learned in school that day and random things me and my friends did, mixed in with me meeting celebrities and saving the school from an alien invasion or it being haunted.

    Nowadays I have a whole imaginary world in my head that I have been writing a story about, it started out as a fantasy about me and a woman I had a crush on but then it expanded into the two of us buying a house together, getting married and having kids.

  • lucifermourning

    when i was a kid, i mostly made up my own, adopting liberally from whatever i’d most recently read or seen.

    nowadays, i role play so it’s World of Darkness most of all, with occasional forays into other game worlds. because playing in imaginary worlds is definitely not just for kids!

  • Arresi

    I distinctly recall playing Lord of the Rings with my classmates in elementary school (I think I was the only one who’d read it) and trying to equalize the gender ratios in the Lord of the Rings. (If I recall, Eowyn, Arwen, and Rosie Cotton all got to go along in my version.) Sadly, my brilliant plan was foiled when Arwen absolutely refused to marry Aragorn and the Fellowship split up.

    Uh, lots of time in Mossflower (I mostly played cats and foxes that joined the good guys.) A fair bit in Pern (mostly as a bard, I think – I adored Menolly). Star Trek – Deep Space Nine in particular (my DS9 ended up with historians, diplomats, and at least one politician running for Federation Council). Valdemar, for a bit (mostly bards again, although I was less focused in that universe). Tamora Pierce, but more in the Circle series – I didn’t properly fall in love with the Alanna-verse until I read the first Beka Cooper book.

    I did crossovers constantly – Narnia and Mossflower were obviously right next door to each other. Middle Earth wasn’t far away. And Prydain was close as well.

    Aside from a fondness for storytellers, historians and politicians, I have this idea that I spent a lot of time getting away from the main settings. Ds9 I was ok with, but I was also really attached to San Franscisco. In Mossflower, I focused more on Brockhall, the pirate island in Mariel, and the Northern kingdoms/territories. In the Prydain series I was interested in the Free Towns/Holds. In Pern, I think I was interested in the time-jumped Southern Hold (I really wanted to reform it, I think). In Valdemar I think I focused more on the unexplored areas. In Narnia, I think it was wherever Aravis was from (They had a Necropolis! Narnia did not have necropolises.) and I think I was interested in the ruined capital in Prince Caspian (there may have been archaeologists) and those towns of humans who stuck around at the end of Prince Caspian.

  • DataSnake

    Out of curiosity, are you planning on reading the kids The Hunger Games when they get older?

  • Bookworm

    What about the His Dark Material trilogy for Sally? I thought Lyra was an excellent heroine.
    I’d also recommend the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane and the ‘adventure’ series by Willard Price, which starts with ‘Amazon Adventure’. Even though the heros of his series are boys, I spent many happy hours reading them as a little girl, and they taught me a lot about the natural world.