And yes, they definitely do. In some cases it might be parents or grandparents reading to their children, but certainly not always. I, and many other adults it seems, simply love to read children’s books. There must be a reason. In my case as a children’s writer, part of the reason might be to check out other children’s authors out there, what they write about, how they carry the story through, and how the best sellers make it. That much is true, but my need to read children’s books runs much deeper.
So, what compels us to return to the books we read, or would like to have read, in our childhood? Is it because we want to feel like a child again without the cares and problems of the real world? Because we want to read for fun, knowing nothing about the book will be too sad or disturbing? I once read that some people consider children’s books as second rate in a literary sense. Anyone who thinks that is missing out on a seriously good genre of books. They are just as difficult to write and get published, maybe even more so. The writer has to work very hard to hit the right pitch for a book that is exciting, interesting, not too scary, keeps the attention and is certainly not offensive in any way. Children take books to heart, they read them, and they live them. It is a great responsibility to fulfil all those needs. A good book is a good book, no matter what age range it is written for, so why should adults feel embarrassed about reading a great book just because it was written for children?
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are classic examples. Written by JRR Tolkien, these books have easily stood the test of time and provided enjoyment to a wide range of ages worldwide. The same goes for the films. More up to date we only have to look at the Harry Potter books that took the world by storm, children and adults alike.
Maybe adults tired of the hustle and bustle of life, the trials and tribulations, disappointments and upsets, just like to escape every so often. Adult books tend to include the harshness of life in them, it makes them real, believable. Children’s books let you believe there is a more magical world out there, one where goodness prevails, hard work is rewarded, and everything works out in the end. Why should we limit ourselves by missing out on all these great books that were not around when we were kids? Children’s books cover a wealth of themes, feelings, difficulties, successes, so why should we think we have outgrown them? Maybe sometimes nostalgia makes us go back to a book we loved as a child, but we also get the chance to read them through different eyes now that our perspectives on life have changed so much. And as I said before, there are also the books that simply had not been written when we were young! Why should we miss out on some fantastic new authors?
No, there is nothing to be ashamed of to like reading children’s books. They offer a wealth of subjects, knowledge, emotions and easy to read enjoyment. They take us into worlds we remember, or maybe have never seen. We can escape again into times when life was easier, less responsible, and simply more fun. It’s great to escape back to childhood at times, in fact, I sometimes wonder if I ever left mine.
I sincerely hope I will never stop enjoying to read, and of course write, children’s books. The world would be a much emptier place without them all.