Monday, May 11, 2009

A Good Story is a Good Story -- Children's Book Week

There is a prevailing attitude among adults that reading children's books or young adult books is a waste of their time. There are so many adult books they want to read, why should they spend any time reading kid's books? The quality just isn't the same. It's not for them.

I really disagree.

But I didn't always. When I first heard perfectly sound and reasonable adults were reading Young Adult novels, I thought..."why?" I felt pretty sure I wouldn't enjoy young adult novels and visions of Jessica and Elizabeth danced in my head. But I kept seeing that adults were reading YA novels (and for some reason it never occurred to me that my favorite books, Harry Potter, were YA) so I decided to give it a try. My first foray into the world of YA books was Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and I haven't looked back. I was so enthralled by the world she created that I was willing to try more and I haven't regretted it.

But what about children's books? I work with adults with poor reading skills and we use children's books as tools. Some of these books...I have read them hundreds if not thousands of times and some are so well crafted and beautifully written that I am still touched by them. I still feel something. Hope, sorrow, sympathy, and joy. I still see the world in a new and different way.

So you see, it's not really about adult books or YA books, or children's books. A good story is a good story. Some are written with every audience in mind, and some with older audiences. But the human experience is still the same for us all and we can find ourselves in a good story.

I found out that this week is Children's Book Week. A whole week to celebrate children's books! What could be better?

So here's my personal little challenge to a children's book this week. Even if you have no children like myself. Even if haven't read one for years. Or even if you read one every a children's book for yourself. Find one you've never read or revisit a favorite from your childhood. And enjoy!

If you don't know where to start, I'd suggest Eve Bunting. I love her books! My adult students also really enjoy them. Some of my favorites are Train to Somewhere, Fly Away Home, and Dandelions.

Who are your favorite children's book authors?



violetcrush said...

I never read as a child, so I make it up by reading children's books now and I love them. I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time last year and I loved it. I just bought "Island of the Blue Dolphins" by Scott O’Dell and I've heard it's a good children's book. So i might read that this week.

Nymeth said...

Perfectly said, Amy! I really, really disagree with that attitude as well. Children's literature can be so rich and rewarding, no matter how old you are.

I had no idea this was week was Children's Books Week! Thank you for the info. I most certainly will read a book to celebrate.

My favourite children's books know, most of my favourite authors are either children's authors or authors who also write for children: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula Le Guin, Philip Pullman, Lloyd Alexander...I could go on and on :P

bermudaonion said...

It's been so long since I've read a children's book, I'm not sure who my favorite author would be. I do enjoy YA novels, though.

Amanda said...

Hi Amy, I'm here through Nymeth - I agree, too. The attitude regarding YA and children's books is really awful. I love them! I look forward to reading a children's book this week. Now I just have to decide if I should reread an old favorite, or pick a new one...

Jen said...

I can't believe you brought up Eve Bunting. I recognized the name but then I had to google her because I thought she may have written my favorite book as a child--Karen Kepplewhite is the World's Best Kisser. LOVED that book!!

Staci said...

We're so glad to welcome you to YA junkie heaven!! Wicked Lovely was great wasn't it?!! Enjoy all the wonderful books out there! YA is one of my ultimate favorite genres ever!!

Amee said...

I totally agree. Books are for everyone. My 75 year old grandmother reads young adult novels I bring her. There truly is no age limit!

Nari - The Novel World said...

I agree, children's books shouldn't be discounted. Afterall, they didn't even gain any validation until the early 20th century. There were no children's books before then, no picture books either.

There's something fun about children's and teen's books that is not in adult literature; its more of an escape read than anything. Most adult books are filled with adult issues, which I try to avoid as much as possible when I want to get away from all the stress of life. I think as an adult reading children's books, you can really pick out the more talented authors, those that make adult and literary references in their works.

I always read horror stories as a kid, well The Baby-Sitter's Club, everything RL Stine and anything to do with haunted dollhouses, or time traveling.

Memory said...

I love this idea! I read a lot of children's and YA lit to begin with, but I think this week would be a great time for a binge.

My absolute favourite young peoples' authors are Lloyd Alexander and Francesca Lia Block. FLB was actually the the person who convinced me that YA wasn't just for the teenage set. I read WEETZIE BAT at a friend's urging and was shocked at how good it was. Prior to that, I was convinced that YA lit was all about stereotypical teen issues and poor writing. Obviously my view of YA was quite outdated. :)

chartroose said...

My favorite children's author is A. A. Milne. I have this thing for Eeyore, plus, I think Milne had a lot to say about life if you read between the lines.

When I want to take a break from the rather dreary world of adult fiction, I'll pick up a couple of teen reads to delve into. I think teen books are 100 times better now than they were when I was a young 'un. Sometimes I like them much more than the usual adult "life sucks and then you die" kind of stuff I've been reading lately.

Maybe it's time to reread some Pooh...

Chris said...

The great thing about having kids is that you have an excuse to read kids' books ;). Mo Willems is a fave here as is Ian Falconer (Oliva) and the Junie B Jones books.

Jen Robinson said...

Great post, Amy! I hope that you'll inspire lots of adults to try reading children's books this week. It's a great idea! (I think that most of the adults who read my blog already do this, otherwise I would copy you in a heartbeat).

Favorite authors... too many to list. From Elizabeth Enright and Zilpha Keatley Snyder to Rick Riordan and Suzanne Collins. I'm currently enjoying Cassandra Clare's City of Bones series.

samantha.1020 said...

Thanks for sharing this with us as I didn't even know that it was Children's book week. I didn't use to read YA and now I'm hooked on it. Great post!

Stephanie said...

Actually, my seven year old reads to me now, so not only do I read a children's book almost every night, I have the pleasure of having my own daughter read it to me!

TexasRed said...

I agree! I just picked up some of my childhood favorites on my last trip to my parents' to re-read: Harriet the Spy, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and others.

Heather said...

Oh I just adore YA and Children's lit! I'm still waiting for you to read Fragile Eternity!! lol

I think there are many, many children's lit books every bit as good as many adult and YA books. Some of my favorite (newer) authors are Neil Gaiman, Cornelia Funke, Angie Sage, Trenton Lee Stewart, Shannon Hale, Linda Buckley-Archer, Joanne Harris (she has one book called Runemarks) and (not as new) Roald Dahl, Louise Fitzhugh, Judy Blume, and on and on.

As for the even younger age group, Mo Willems, Ian Falconer and A.A. Milne are favorites in my house! :)

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'm totally in agreement with you, Amy! I just finished reading A CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE to my niece and nephew. I hadn't read it as a kid. They loved it and so did I. I thought reading to them would be a good excuse, but I don't need an excuse. If a book's good, it's good!

Amy said...

Violetcrush...that is so incredible! And I think that's an experience a lot of my students are having.

Nymeth...I have to read some more of those authors! Thanks for the link love, btw, and helping to spread the word! time like the present!

Amanda...why not do both? Thanks for the visit!

Jen...I love her books...thanks for the comment!

Staci...I love YA and also middle grade and many wonderful books!

Amee...that is awesome!

Nari...I read Fear Street and The BSC at those ages as well!

Memory...mine was too! I hope you enjoy your binge. :)

chartroose..:) yes but there can be some quite serious issues in YA books as well. Does sound like you might enjoy some Pooh now and again. Eeyore...I LOVE.

Chris...true. But you shouldn't need an excuse...:)

Jen..thanks! I really want to read those Cassandra Clare books as well.

Sam..thanks! Hope you enjoy.

Stephanie...that is incredible!! :) I'm so glad she likes to read.

TexasRed...isn't it fun?

Heather...I've read it! Just havent posted my review yet. LOVED IT.

Gwendolyn..exactly! :)

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