Wednesday, January 03, 2007

adults enjoying children's books - how strange!

I just came across this lovely article at, 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?