Why Children’s Books Aren’t Childish

I grew up loving to read. Every night before bed, my sister and I would see how many books we could get our parents to read to us. I had favorites that I wanted to read over and over, but I also craved new stories. The complexity of the books obviously increased as I grew up and began reading children’s books on my own. Eventually I built my way up to smaller chapter books that I would read religiously and pound out in about an hour (Magic Tree House anyone?)

Children’s books not only created new conversation topics among friends and peers, they allowed our imaginations to run wild. During our younger years, they allowed us to discover interests, learn new words and think about different perspectives. Now, those books allow us to go back to a time when we were younger and worried less.

Somewhat recently, I was in my brother’s room and saw the Harry Potter series on his shelf. I knew many of my friends had read them when we were younger, but I just never had. Without much thought, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, sat down on his bed and finished it by the next morning.

Yes the words in that novel and so many other children’s stories are simple; the literal content is not difficult to digest. This allows us to pay attention to the stories and appreciate the joy of reading. Since there isn’t a great deal of effort required to understand the story, the process becomes relaxing and effortless. It reinforces the joy of reading so many of us grew up knowing. While the process of reading children’s books is not the most mentally taxing, there are many messages hidden inside. These messages are relevant, thought provoking and insightful. They help elevate the story.

I read adult books now; I’m not perpetually stuck in the children’s department. And although every ‘adult’ book brings its own worth, some of the most powerful and profound lessons I’ve learned about triumph, failure, persistence, hope, love and loyalty have been through rereading youth fiction.

The Giving Tree taught us about unconditional and endless love. Where the Wild Things Are taught us to be brave and imaginative. The Wizard of Oz taught us the importance of home and that home is a feeling and not a place. Eloise at the Plaza taught us how to be true to ourselves. The Lorax taught us to be mindful of our actions and think about the future.

The list goes on and on. We can’t disregard the importance of Children’s Literature. Those books created the foundation for a love of reading, and while they are not particularly difficult to comprehend literally, they are undeniably worthwhile to digest figuratively. C.S Lewis once said “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond,” and we couldn’t agree more.