"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go." - Dr Seuss (Oh, The Places You'll Go!)
What does this quote say to you? From a very popular and long lasting children's book author, Dr Seuss, this particular story holds a strong message about life, purpose and persistence. What message can you see within it? Does it strike a chord with you on your own personal journey? And do you believe that perhaps children's books are not always written purely for children?
It does strike a chord with me. I spend much time reminding myself I am in charge of me.
And I believe kid lit is valid grown-up reading. Stripped of overwrought dramas and sexual tension, they carry themes, comfort and entertainment we don't have to work to receive.
Sometimes I re-read all the Nancy Drews because it places me back in my childhood when I felt time stretched indefinitely in front of me. The simple act of reading a children's book restores hope and a little childlike wonder.
Yes I believe that too NatalieSack. I like to think children's authors realise that it is often the adult that reads the story to the child, especially if they are too young to read it properly for themselves.
Sometimes we do need to reconnect with our childhood selves to gain a new and fresh perspective on life. Children's books have the power to do this in remarkable ways.
That's why I don't like it when there is a set 'target age group' for a children's book, as it immediately removes the ability to touch many people of differing ages.
You are so right in that a children's book has the ability to restore that childlike wonder to our lives.
I love that quote. I have it one of my hubs, can't recall which one. Yes, it does speak to adults as well as children.
In my profession, I have read many books to children and I can easily say that some of the most profound books I've read have been children's books.
The Velveteen Rabbit comes to mind, The Little Prince, Winnie the Pooh, Little Women, The Tale of the Despereaux, Goodnight Moon...
there are so many, I have spent a number of Saturday mornings browsing the children's books at the library. Some I check out for myself.
Absolutely agree as everyone else has shared - for me I particularly love C.S. Lewis and the tales of Narnia, enjoyed them simply for the great story telling as a child and then again several time over for the layers of deeper meaning. Also loved J.R.R. Tolkien's books and Roald Dahl whose books are wickedly funny to name but a few!
I tend to like these stories that carry a sense of wonder and depth more than some of the adult ones, or maybe it's just that I appreciate them more as an adult!
Yes - to me, what makes a good book is the same whether we're talking about children's books or books for adults. It takes an ordinary world and makes it extraordinary (by having us look at it in a new light), or it takes a fantasy world and shows how it is somehow also subject to ordinary rules.
I still enjoy the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. Fairy tales enable us to think in a magical way and see the world as something to wonder at, which the cynicism that many of us feel as we age seems to replace.
Yes! Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc. I could go on and on. Many of these series novel books have been initially aimed at children and when teens/adults start to pick up on it the publishers would make sure to add an adult version of the story in there for some books.
That's very true, and the obvious success and wide readership of those particular series must point to the fact that children's stories will always have a place in the hearts and minds of adults.
When your child "outgrows" LOR and Star Wars (yeah, right,) in college, turn them on to Joseph Campbell's works about the hero achetype. Dang, can't remember the name exactly, something like Faces of the Hero. I dunno. Google Joseph Campbell. All the good epic hero stories right from the beginning have amazing things in common. Fascinating stuff.
@beachelf: The Hero with a 1000 Faces is the title of Joseph Campbell's book. Awesome book!
About the original question: Stories are universal and didactic, which means that children and adults can relate to the characters' human condition and find a "meaning" or a lesson from the character's action (or lack thereof).
Absolutely, yes. The moral lessons are all there, and you don't even have to browse through 200+ pages to figure them out. There are some very insightful children's books out there.
You are so right anonimuzz. Sometimes we need a simple reminder of those moral lessons without having to decipher it through a heavy novel. I think that's the beauty of a good quality children's book. You can pick it up, share the experience with a child, and then discuss the meaning behind it, for your own growth as well as theirs.
The "discuss the meaning behind it" is the most important part, in my opinion, although sometimes it is overlooked. That's why I'm not always appreciative of the common habit of reading to children right when they're going to sleep. I feel that it is a moment when there's not actually much time to let the story sit. The child is too tired, or the parents are in a hurry to go to bed themselves, and great conversations can be missed because of that. Then, the opportunity to have some of those conversations may be completely lost. On the other hand, there's something delicious about watching a kid falling asleep while he unsuccessfully tries to focus on what he's listening, lol.
Yes that is funny. You are right that more time needs to be dedicated to reading to children outside of the normal pre-bedtime routine. My children have formed somewhat of a habit of asking me to read to them just after breakfast which has been nice. Their concentration span has been so much better at this time and they really seem to enjoy it and soak it up.
The best children's literature does have layers that can be appreciated by people of different ages and developmental levels. Not only literature, but movies as well, have come a long way in "reaching" multiple audiences with messages and humor aimed at a wide variety of folks.
Do be discriminating in your tastes, though, lest you just start accepting any ole lesson as gospel.
Case in point: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstien. Now, I love much of Shel's stuff (both his irreverent poems for kids, and his saucier lyrics for my late dad's favorite band, Dr. Hook.) But I have always taken exception with The Giving Tree, which is (unfortunately,) one of his better known and most-loved works.
In my eyes, a female tree, who loves a little boy, yes, is very endearing. But beyond the first page, the boy (whom it soon becomes apparent does not have the same depth of feelings for the tree,) becomes this self-centered user, and the tree martyrs herself time and again in self-destructive (literally) co-dependency.
There are many messages out there, traveling in many vehicles. Use your brain.
Theodore Geissel (Dr. Seuss) was one of the first Children's authors to really try to make reading material for kids ENTERTAINING. Up until him, children's books were just for "teaching kids to read." BOR-ing. See Dick. See Jane. Throw-up.
How wildly imaginative, silly, entertaining, and still full of important lessons his books are. His themes of peace, acceptance of others, co operation, compassion, patience, determination, and the list goes on and on, are as valid for 1st graders today as when he wrote them. What a legacy!
Yes, Dr. Seuss really was rather brilliant on so many levels. The sheer craft of his works that hold the ability to teach children to read (without them even realising) is so very wonderful. The magic of rhyme and repetition with the underlying messages for young and old within his books is pure genius. I still occasionally get caught by a message for myself whilst reading to my children.
I think I love reading to my nephew more than he enjoys hearing it. There are certain books I love to read because they're so beautifully written. It frustrates me when he chooses books that sound like they were pushed out and are just... "He did this. Then this. Then he said this." Sometimes it's nice to take a break from the complexity of adult literature and just sit down and read a book through the eyes of a child. It also helps me to destress and remember a time when things were simpler.
I totally agree with you brielise. I really enjoy a well written children's book and can get frustrated with the rubbish that is published at times. Especially those quickly manufactured books (merchandise) to go with kids movies that come out. It's all about money making without a thought to the quality of children's literature. I can tell from the minute I start reading a book whether it is well written or not.
At times I want to sort through my kids books and remove all the poorly written ones - but then, I suppose this is a point of discussion to engage in with children. Why do the words in this book sound different? Do you hear rhyme here? Do you see words that start with the same letters that sound nice together? etc, etc.
You are right in the ability of a good children's book to de-stress oneself though. It really does work.
ABSOLUTELY! As an elementary school teacher and a mom of two preschoolers, I read more "children's books" than I do adult books. I love children's books for their simplicity yet complexity all at the same time. I think that not only adults, but young adults can benefit from reading children's stories. If i were a High School teacher, I would definitely read children's books to my students.
As far as my favorites, oh my I think that there are just too many to name. There are so many genres and important reasons to read each of them, curriculum, respect, morals, etc. that I just cannot pick one!
It's great to know there are so many great ones out there that can crossover age barriers. As a teacher and mother also, I have become exposed to so many great books I perhaps would not have com across otherwise. I love discovering a new inspiring find.
Without any question. I firmly believe as we grow we should read the books we read as kids again and again. Every time, I do it after some time gap things look different for me. Same story I read in different ways, words appear new and appealing new.
Yes! One of my favorites that I like to reread as an adult from time to time is "The Giving Tree". And there are many that I'd like to go back and read as an adult one of these days (some E.B. White books for example).
Yes! One of the BEST things about having children is reading books to them - I enjoy it as much as they do. I will probably still be reading Winnie the Pooh when they've gone off to college
Like any creative medium children's books speak to those who listen... I find lately as I read my personal favorites to our youngest daughter (6) many of the tales strike a chord with either my husband or I. They seem to have always, for our oldest son (13) still pops in at bedtime to relate the pieces or certain books to his daily life. Yes, I'm serious and we do have all the necessary "comforts" in our lives. Pick up a copy of I'll Love you Forever, Charlotte's Web, Or the aforementioned Oh, The places You'll Go. I'm sure you'll connect the dots somewhere between here and the waiting place..
I love children's books and I believe there are always wonderful things for adults as well as the child to gleam. A great storybook is such a wonderful prelude for a parent to interact which their child about a wide variety of subjects, depending on the book.
Someone on fb posted a Dr.Suess book recently that totally spoke to me
Yes there are many that speak to all ages. I hope mine does, too.
I just finished reading the Harry Potter series with my children, ages 8 and 12. They loved the books, and I couldn't wait for bedtime to read the next chapter each night. J.K. Rowlings writing and imagination resonated with all of us, opening up unknown worlds, surprising, scaring, intriguing and connecting us with her words. Like Shakespeare and Dickens, Any good writer can touch young and old alike.
I think many books have various layers. Since children's books are generally written by adults, they often hint at adult concepts. As a child, I often read "adult" classics. I didn't understand them on the level I do now, but it didn't keep me from enjoying them and drawing my own (perhaps naive) conclusions. As adults it's healthy to see things through the eyes of a child and remember what it was like to be innocent and carefree.
I'd say more like re-state the obvious that the adult already should know, but has forgotten!
Stories that are told simply and clearly are oftentimes far more full of grassroots wisdom than complicated yet well written plots using big words that will say the same thing. Adults can learn from both books. What I learned mostly from children's books was how my child would react to them when she was little. We used to read together every night and it helped me to understand her little view of the world and in this way, contributed to mine.
I also love Dr. Seuss, his humor, playfulness with words and wonderful lessons, always well conveyed.
DR Suess is one of my all time favorites I currently attend the institute of childrens literature for my second two years and I think yes, childrens books can speak to you throughout your entire life
Yes, I believe adults can gain from reading children's books. Even better is reading it to your child because you see how she responds to it and it enriches your own experience of understanding the book.
My daughter as a child loved books with pretty pictures, etc., but I had to take time and effort to get her to like Dr. Seuss because his pictures aren't pretty. Eventually, she did like him, and I love him. He makes everything playful and it's nice to become a kid again. Dr. Seuss lets the adult be the kid, and whether the kid likes it or not, they gotta go through it, hahahaha.
What I do not understand is why publishers do not want rhyming books for children. Children love them, yet it is next to impossible to find anyone who will even look at or even consider a story in rhyme, or a book of poems for children.
I agree with grandy. We can look back and see how simple it should have been to understand basic reading and how much fun it should have been as well.
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