My mantra is beginning to be, “I didn’t plan to write this but here we are…” I apologize. I’ll be back later today with some flash fiction but for the moment I’d like to briefly comment on this gem, why do grown ups read ‘childrens lit’?. Please follow the link to this lovely individuals blog for some of their thoughts on the subject.
I for one love this question, because it is one that I find myself answering all the time.
While I won’t say that I only read children’s lit, I will say that I head right to it’s section in every library or bookstore I visit. Though I do pick up other books in other genres with more adult themes and topics, I personally am more often than not let down by books made for adults. Part of this is because I prefer fantasy and sci-fi genres and not the realistic non fiction my parent’s and their friends go to, but that isn’t all of it.
Often times, the books made for children or teens have more life in them, at least I cry and laugh and shout when reading those books because of the quirkiness of the characters or their outrageous actions or circumstances, and yet I rarely find myself so moved by adult lit.
I firmly believe that any book which can, even for a moment, distract us from the real horrors of the world and our lives is a good thing. More than that though, I love that more often than not children’s lit expresses those same horrors in disguise. It’s Voldemort, not Hitler after all.
The ability of children’s lit authors to take the horrors of the world and make them understandable and real to children, introducing kids to topics and ideas that they won’t see for years in school, is a wonderful thing. No parent is going to give their 10 year old a documentary of how dictators can ruin countries or oppress and torture their people, yet you can hand your child the Hunger Games and do the same thing.
Yes these worlds are fantasy and yes there are things within that cannot mesh with reality, but the fact that children’s stories are able to focus on the worst and best things about human life and add life lessons and morals too, is something you won’t get from a history book. It’s easy to point fingers and say that one side of any argument is right or wrong, but in fiction we find that often the bad guy had good intentions, or a bad childhood, or was simply misguided, but at least we get the opportunity to decide for ourselves.
Too often the news and textbooks paint the facts in one light or another and it takes time to decipher the truth. But in a children’s book, we are given the opportunity to see the whole story and are shown that even the worst people can do good, and even the hero has his faults.
Maybe it isn’t a grown up decision to pick up Percy Jackson and the Olympians instead of the Iliad, but guess what? I’m an adult and I don’t have to act like one. Thanks for teaching me that one Peter… Pan.
As written from behind my desk while sipping cream soda and wearing dinosaur footy pajamas… Adult size!
Are you an adult who likes to read children’s lit? What are your favorites? Has anyone ever given you hell for it? Let me know in the comments.