As you guys may know, I am really passionate about literature and this blog even has its own book corner! You may have noticed, I have “a things” for children’s books, even though I am (technically) not a child. This is something than can look weird, especially in Academia. What I mean here is that I do not only read and discuss children’s literature on a blog, I study children’s literature in my master’s. I am even writing a thesis about the impact of children’s literature on the way children discover new languages, so I am a true passionate. I think that one of the things I hate the most in Academia (and not only in Academia!) is people who say that they read “true literature”. There is absolutely no such thing as “true” literature to me, there is just the literature you enjoy, and if your thing is not considered “true” literature by snobbish people, so be it. Let’s read what we love and be proud of it!
I obviously do believe that children’s books do wonders for children, and not only in their relationship with reading but in their development altogether. However, I also think that children’s books can do wonders for adults and today, I would love to share with you five ways in which reading these books may improve your life.
Picture books are often masterpieces.
If you love art, you may consider reading children’s books. Of course there are children’s books that are more or less stunning in the way they are designed, but most of them are worth your time. You may not know it, but some picture books exist in limited editions, with wonderful covers or never-seen-before illustrations for instance. The mere fact that these picture books exist in limited editions shows that their target-reader is not only the child (who doe snot care about owning a limited edition) but adult-bibliophiles. If you would like to see how stunning a picture book can be, have a look at Antoine Guilloppé’s Plein Lune, you may be surprised.
A wholesome world to get into.
There is a cool thing about children’s books: they are wholesome. When you read a book destined to children, you do not need to face terrible descriptions of painful wars or very mean actions. Of course, if you read YA (aka young adult), that may happen but if you read a middle-grade book, chances are that even if the character faces hardships (there is no plot without hardships, is it?), these hardships will end well. Thus, if you want to spend a moment away from all the hardships of the everyday world, try a middle grade book.
An interesting exercise for writers(to-be).
If you consider writing children’s books, and even if you don’t and prefer historical fiction, I think it may be great to read a few children’s books. Maybe not picture books if it is really not your thing, but YA fiction and middle grade books can have a great effect on your writing style. Usually, these books have mastered the “cliffhanger” point, which means that when reading, you always want to read more: this is how we capture children’s and adolescents’ attention (which is so hard to capture, let me tell you!). Thus, you can read it and try to dissect the way the author does it, thus learning how to do it in your own book.
A way to broaden your knowledge of literature.
If you are a literature student or just someone who would like to discover literature, reading children’s books (picture books, middle-grade books and YA) is a great way to broaden your knowledge. Most literature student have never read a picture book with their “student’s eyes”. Some of them have read these books when they were younger but have not opened them since and thus, have never “analyzed” it the way they would with one of Jane Austen’s novels. I think that learning about children’s literature is a way to have a knowledge most people do not have, and a way to broaden your perception of literature.
A way yo understand children better.
Whether you are a parent, a sister, a teacher or a librarian, you are facing children everyday, aren’t you? Even if you are not all these things, I think that we all know at least one child and understanding children can be really hard. What do they think about? What are their problems? You can obviously read theoretical books such as the ones I read for my thesis, but if you want to get to learn about children in a much lighter way, try children’s books. Most authors have themselves studied these topics and know what children need to read: they address children’s problems and thoughts in their books. Thus, by reading these books meant to help children understand better the world around them, you get to learn what a child needs.
For all of these reasons, I hope you will at least try it or think about trying it. You could start with a picture book such as The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman or with a middle-grade with The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend. No matter your choice, remember that you are doing something good, something that most people do not dare doing: reading with children’s eyes and preserving your inner-child.