“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.”C.S. Lewis
I have a confession to make. I am an adult who loves children’s books. I am not ashamed.
I’m sure there are many adults out there who secret their Harry Potter copies behind Stephen King dust jackets. Or those who hunch over their kindle on the morning commute to deter prying eyes. I was one of them, once upon a time. What I’ve come to realise is that it would be such a waste to miss out on stories that are so rich in wonder and adventure just out of embarrassment.
Children’s books are wonderful. The worlds built within a novel written for children are uninhibited by the things which only adults can value. Writers who write for children do so to delight their readers. I think they also do it to delight themselves; to live out fantasy’s they once had on the playground in a manner which their adult mind is now able to construct into something coherent for others.
I do not read books because I want to struggle. I don’t want to curl up at night and force myself into a transcendence of intellect. Not for the most part, anyway (though I’m still trying to get through Ulysses). I read because my soul hungers for stories I wish could be mine. I read because I want to meet characters I wish could be real. I read because I love reading, not because I seek the approval of other literary minds.
I read because I love rich stories. I don’t mind if that story was written for children.
5 Reasons To Read Kid’s Books
1. The language in children’s books is beautiful.
Beautiful, rhythmic prose is found so often in books for younger audiences; and I do love beautiful language.
2. The illustrations are delightful.
The books of Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes were published with illustrations originally. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone brought back the trend of illustrating adult books?
We forget how much of a story is in the illustrations when we move on to adult books. And it’s such a shame, especially because illustrators aren’t given nearly enough praise for the work they do. The artwork in children’s books are worthy of museum walls, and for the price of a picture book we can take these masterpieces home.
3. The adventures are thrilling, but safe.
I do love a good intrigue, but I also like spoiling the end for myself. Why? because if a story is going to end in tragedy I need time to prepare myself. In books written for children, any tragedy is cushioned and is mostly overshadowed with hope. It’s cosy. Sometimes, you need cosy.
4. The stories are imaginative.
As we grow out of childhood we run the risk of losing our imaginations to the business of our adult responsibility. Imagination is an essential tool that many of us forget how to use.
Children’s literature reminds us all to take a step back and see the world without all the ambiguity and self-doubt of an adult. A story told in the clear, tidy way of a child’s point of view is a refreshing break from adulthood which we all need from time to time.
5. For writers, children’s books are a reminder to simplify.
Sometimes you just need to tell the story. Books for children are are still wonderful and full, but they are stripped of the layers and ambiguity. There is a lesson is children’s books; paring back the difficulty does not make it a simple story, just an uncomplicated one.
Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence.C.S Lewis
I don’t believe that to be a grown-up means putting away the child inside forever. I live to find joy – we all should. I have no desire live outside of fantasy and fairy tale, trading it in for a never ending road of ambition and quests to transcend my intellectual boundaries. I need time to put that away and delve joyfully into another world.
Who cares if that world was built for children?