Wednesday, January 03, 2007

adults enjoying children's books - how strange!

I just came across this lovely article at bookslut.com, The Books I Never Missed. The author writes very expressively about the pleasure of reading, as an adult, the children's books that were never a part of her almost bookless childhood:

"Good Night Moon's [sic] reassuring verses and the coos of my infant daughter soothed my jangled post-partum nerves. My fingers moved across Pat the Puppy's fleecy fur and Daddy's scratchy beard -- as if I were reading Braille. I grooved to the irresistible rhythm of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish with my two-year old son. I learned that a good children's book is like a poem -- concise, unsentimental, affecting."

I'm not sure I entirely get her point, though. Is there something special about discovering these books only as an adult? "I feel lucky." she writes. "That I didn't enjoy the elegance and power of The Snowy Day until 1996, that I don't know (still) how The Little Prince ends; that I only vaguely recall Where the Wild Things Are as a cartoon on TV; that I could hope, along with my daughter, that Louis, the mute bird in The Trumpet of the Swan would be able to save enough money to re-pay his father's debt." Would having had those books as part of her childhood spoil that adult experience for her? Childhood memories add layers to a book, in my experience; they don't take anything away. Or do they? What do you think?

6Bligs:

Blogger Be Inspired Always bligged...

I don’t think it would ruin her experience. I’m sure her perspective would have changed though. Maybe as a child she didn’t notice things about the book as she would when she became an adult. When I look at a children’s book now, I notice the layer of colors used in the illustrations, the concept behind the story, what was the author thinking at the time he wrote it. It doesn’t take anything away from it… nor did it when I was a child.

1/03/2007 7:00 PM  
Blogger Nancy bligged...

I've think it does change the experience a bit. There is a magic to discovering great children's books as an adult. At least for me. It's a feeling that you don't have to be done finding wonderful things.

I just read the Narnia books for the first time, and it was exciting to me because here were all these great books that I had missed and I got to have that "first discovery" experience now.

I still love to re-read, and there are books I'll read 1,000 times or more without tiring of them. And there's magic in re-reading as well.

But there's just a different magic in discovery, and it's nice to still be able to have that now.

1/05/2007 6:32 PM  
Blogger web bligged...

But there's no lack of wonderful books still to be discovered... you could have a childhood chock full of wonderful books, as I did, and then an adulthood full of a completely different batch, if you so desired. :-)

1/05/2007 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Beth Mitcham bligged...

Maybe it's a ruthlessly pollyanna-ish approach to life : I'm *glad* that my parents never let me eat candy bars, because it was so much fun to sneak them. I'm *glad* that I never learned another language because it gives me so many chances to rely on the kindness of strangers while abroad.

If you look at every missed opportunity as a chance to be happy later, maybe you become really perky? Doesn't seem worth it to me. I shall continue spoiling my future life and that of those around me by pushing books now.

Could a slow reader enjoy Sutcliffe at 8? I'm trying to find more books that he reads because read-aloud time just isn't enough. But it's hard for me because I could read so well so young.

1/26/2007 8:43 PM  
Blogger web bligged...

I know what you mean: my niece is not much of a reader yet, and only really open to easy realistic fiction and it's so weird for me. I mean, I can't even read fantasy *to* her.

My gut feeling is that Stucliffe would be intimidating for a slow reader, however I never did get into her, so that may be my bias.

There are lists of resources for these specific kinds of issues - have you checked with your library?

1/27/2007 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Beth Mitcham bligged...

Yes, but library lists are all for the older slow reader, like ten year olds who read at the 2nd grade level. Technically he reads at the low end of his age level, but he listens several years up, so the books he reads he finds dull.

Tintin seems to be a good choice, maybe I'll look into graphic novels.

1/27/2007 9:26 PM  

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