Should adults read children’s literature? I used to think so. I was whole-heartedly behind the idea. I used to bemoan the fact that my library separated the adult and children’s sections by a hallway and atrium because it limited my ability to show children’s lit to adults. I was convinced that children’s lit fixed what was wrong in adult lit: it couldn’t rely on sex and drugs as plot fillers, so children’s books had to rely on excellent, clean plot lines. Now, in my second (and somewhat work-imposed) foray into children’s lit, I’ve been less impressed. It may be that I’ve already read the big, impressive classics, but I see now that children’s literature relies every bit as heavily on fart jokes as adult lit does on sex and violence.
Perhaps, as with everything, children’s literature must be read at the right time and place, and in the right mood. Read it when you’re in need of uplifting. When you find your outlook has grown pessimistic and dull. Read it when you are stuck in the doldrums, or when you don’t want to be bogged down by responsibility. But, for heaven’s sake, do not make children’s literature the only thing you read as an adult. As with every genre: if you stay too long, you’ll get bored.
So, before I move on to my normal reading patterns, here’s a not-so-recommended list of the children’s books I’ve been working through:
The One and Only Ivan: Sparse, poetic prose. Interesting attempt to get into the mind of an animal without overly anthropomorphizing it.
Artemis Foul: Hilarious, up to a point. But, this is definitely a fart-joke heavy book.
H.I.V.E.: Ridiculously, over-the-top evil, which makes it quite funny. Sort of a sci-fi antithesis of Mysterious Benedict Society.
Hoot: Why is this book so beloved and talked about? Somehow, all of the wrong things were overly realistic – the setting and characters were boring suburbia – while all the character’s motivations were unfathomably unrealistic.
Origami Yoda: Excellent, engaging narrative structure (case files) with interesting, true-to-life problems a middle schooler might deal with. Easy to see why this series does so well with kids.