Are you on a quest?? Are you reading a book about a quest?
The fact is: quests run rampant throughout children’s and young adult literature!
One classic of children’s literature that treats this notion of the quest both symbolically and physically is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I encountered this famous fantasy as a young reader and the book is one I still love to this day. Bilbo Baggins’ decision to leave Bag End and venture into the unknown is an excursion that changes him in more ways than one.
Bilbo’s experience is one that many of us can relate to—a moment when we are offered a chance to step outside of our comfort zone, whether that is to start something new by putting into action an idea we’ve had for awhile, move somewhere new, or change something that needs to change. For many of us, it is the space between decision and action that is frightening, and like Bilbo, most readers can understand how precarious this points is. Perhaps this aspect of the novel is one reason why The Hobbit is a classic, and yet reaches out to both children and adults.
Bilbo is insecure in the beginning of the novel, uncertain about whether he is capable of the large quest offered to him. Like him, we sometimes feel unworthy of a significant endeavor into which we are placed. The fact is: you are a unique individual, and certain tasks need your background and expertise, though you may not see yourself as an expert.
As a young reader, The Hobbit was an influential book for my own thinking about the idea of having a “quest” or “destiny” in life.
What other texts of children’s literature illuminate a quest that you find beautiful and significant? What quests in children’s literature are you drawn to again and again?