Spirituality in childhood studies: encounters with imaginary friends and angels

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Many children appear to move seamlessly between the daily, material world and invisible worlds where they encounter imaginary friends, deceased people and pets and ethereal or divine beings. Often deemed to be routine elements of children’s play, adults regularly dismiss them as imagination. Yet for many children, these are a fundamental part of their spiritual and/or religious life but the broader literature on childhood makes little mention of them. Instead, they focus more on social constructions or psychological development when exploring definitions of childhood(s). This paper draws on primary and secondary research to argue that for many children these spiritual experiences are not only a fundamental part of childhood but can be particularly meaningful. Therefore, academic works exploring the nature of childhood(s) would benefit from venturing into these unseen worlds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChildhood Remixed
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Imaginary friends
  • spiritual experience
  • religious experience
  • children's spirituality
  • angels
  • invisible companions


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