There’s been a fair amount of conversation about the surprising readership of young adult fiction: adults. According to The Christian Science Monitor, reporting on a recent study released by Bowker Market Research, 55 percent of those purchasing young adult books are 18 or older. Yes, some might be buying for actually young readers, but a good majority of these adults are scooping up the genre for themselves. General consensus has been that this unlikely subset of readers is happy for the escape, for an uncomplicated, plot-driven experience. I completely understand this. I spent a summer reading young adult and children’s books for a scouting agency. I can attest to the fun of reading a creative, quick, simply amusing read. Sometimes it’s nice not to analyze a page of 19th century literature or over-think a non-fiction tome. (And I was an English major. I could eat 300-page books for breakfast.)
A purely enjoyable time can be found reading a page of children’s literature. In recent months, I’ve read two beloved children’s books that I missed during my actual childhood: The Phantom Tollbooth and The Little Prince. (I gave my parents a hefty guilt trip for the misstep—though, in fairness, they did grace me with The Chronicles of Narnia and Eloise.) I can’t say more emphatically how much I loved The Phantom Tollbooth. I raved about it for days and friends thought I was a little nuts. I just finished The Little Prince and it was adorable, particularly the illustrations. (Aren’t pictures one of the best parts of children’s books?!) Both expressed the exact reason why children’s literature is so important, particularly for adults. Just as young Milo and the young pilot discovered new worlds, reading about their adventures awakens one’s imagination, which lies mostly dormant after hitting the real world roadblock. If you read them already as children, re-reading old favorites lets you see something new. And when you sit down with your child to read The Little Prince or If You Give a Moose a Muffin (personal favorite), you not only have a lovely memory, but also, hopefully, a kid who will want to devour books too. Mostly, reading children’s literature as an adult will make you smile. Who doesn’t like that?
Book Nook will be an ongoing feature here, so I can talk…and talk and talk…books. Coming soon: my thoughts on Nora Ephron and her—bound—works.