In On Three Ways of Writing for Children, C. S. Lewis says:
When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
I’ve gone through the same cycle. I loved kid’s books when I was in elementary school. But then I became known as a “reader,” which for some reason felt like I needed to step up my game. I read The Three Musketeers in sixth grade, and I got hooked on the classics. I read Austen, Brontë, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald. I became a bit of a book snob (the Harry Potter series excepted), and I spent all of my time in book stores and libraries scanning the “Literature” section. I took great pride in being a teenager not in “Young Adult” section.
Well, this came to bite me in the butt, because now I’m twenty-seven, and I spend 90% of my bookstore time pouring over the YA shelves, and even worse, the children’s section. The books I spent eight years avoiding are so good. I mean, obviously some of them are really awful. But so are a lot of “adult” books.
What I’ve come to realize is that books are books and stories are stories. Some books are written about children, and they are labeled children’s books. Some books are written about teenagers, and they are labeled young adult books. Some books are written about adults, and they are labeled adult books. But this labeling system does not address the maturity levels of the content. Some adult books are saccharine and mindless. Some chidlren’s books are inspiring and thought-provoking.
I used to avoid books that I thought were childish. Now I seek them out, because I know that life’s lessons apply to all people of all ages. And sometimes, as Lewis pointed out, it takes a mature adult to realize that childish fairy tales are worth reading.
Some of my favorite “Children’s Books”:
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Voyage of of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanha Lai
…and many more that I read before I started reviewing books!
How do you feel about reading children’s books? Do you have a favorite? Leave a comment and let me know!