My preferences are not important. Just look at what I've read, note what's lacking, and tell me to read it posthaste.
When I read Lewis Carroll’s first and more iconic children’s novel concerning Alice’s adventures, I swam through it joyfully, but nearly thoughtlessly. I found it readable, but its madness seemed, at the time, to gleefully flick me on the end of my nose for seriously considering what the book’s subtext could be. For whatever reason, the wrong side of a looking-glass provided a more lucid point from which to take in Carroll’s inventive and rewarding confection of a story. This time around I gleaned the value a child, or an adult, might get from carrying his or her whimsy out of Wonderland, and back home.
Adults so often frighten children, thinking that they are teaching them to escape danger, and therefore stay safe. But one need not frighten children into avoiding whatever is nasty in the world; even when a good story does use fear, it is not to petrify and immobilize children, but to give them something to overcome. What’s brilliant about Carroll is that Alice’s adventures, both down the rabbit hole and through the looking-glass, do not even use fear at all as the hurdle to be overcome. He deals instead with madness, nonsense, and silliness. The view one gets on the other side of the looking-glass is skewed, but it is still just a backwards version of the real world. All the misused language and anti-logic employed by queens and knights can be found just as often in ordinary life. What better way to stimulate children then to teach them how to sniff out bullshit, but also be able to laugh at themselves when they step in it?