If you read as a child, and loved it, then re-reading those books is like entering a time machine that takes you back to the child you once were. It's amazing, because the books are still available - you can read them any time. It doesn't cost much, you don't have to travel, you don't need anyone to help you. You can just time travel at will.
You can also read newer children's books, and there are some great ones out there. This helps to keep you young at heart, and imaginative. It's also a great way to relate better to kids in your life, be they your own children, or friends' children, or nieces and nephews... Kids who love books love to talk about these books with the adults in their lives. And trust me, they know if you're faking it, or not really interested. One of our nieces likes to rehash every detail of the Harry Potter books with us. We have read them, and we can offer informed opinions about whether or not Ron and Hermione are going to end up together, and other important issues. I think that this is valuable for our niece, and that it strengthens our bond with her.
Now, if you didn't read much as a child, it's all the more important to read children's book now. Because you've really missed out on a lot of great things. For one thing, there are a lot of cultural references that you're just missing, especially if you never read the classics. Do you know what a Pollyanna is? Do you remember when Joey from Friends was reading Little Women? Trust me, the episode was better if you already knew that Beth died, and cried over it yourself.
Also, children's books are often flat-out inspirational. They make you want to be a better person. They make you believe that you can be a better person. They give you examples of bravery and honesty and reacing for a dream. Oh, you can find these things in adult books, too, but you have to look a lot harder.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't read adult literature. There's great stuff there, too, and you would miss out if you didn't read it. But I suggest sprinkling in a few children's books from time to time. And if you don't read much at all, but feel like you want to, then children's books are a great place to start. They're relatively short, so even if you can only read a little at a time, you can finish a book before you tire of seeing it on your nightstand. And because they're designed to keep the attention of children, they're generally page-turners. You want to keep going to find out what happens next.
So, here are my top 10 reasons why adults should read children's books:
- It's fun.
- It keeps your imagination active.
- It strengthens your relationship with the children in your life who read.
- It sets an example for the children in your life, making them more likely to become readers.
- It clues you in on cultural references that you may have missed (both current and classical).
- It's fast. Children's books are usually shorter than adult books, so if you don't think you have time to read, you DO have time to read children's books.
- It allows you to read across genres. Children's books aren't limited to mystery OR science fiction OR fantasy OR literary fiction. They can have it all.
- It's like time travel - it's an easy way to remember the child that you once were, when you first read a book.
- It's often inspirational - reading about heroes and bravery and loyalty makes you want to be a better person. And couldn't we all do with some of that?
- Did I mention that it's fun?
I'll be discussing some of these reasons in more detail in future posts. Tomorrow I'll be back with some specific recommendations for getting started. I also plan to start an email newsletter on Children's Books for Adults sometime in the near future. If you would like to be notified about this, send me an email. Thanks for reading!
(c) 2005 by Jennifer K. Robinson