Sunday, October 07, 2007

I Love Kid Lit!
As any frequent reader of my reviews knows, I read a lot of kid lit. Part of the reason is because I have a nine year old. But I buy a lot of books that I haven't had time to read to him yet either. I read those. I can read them faster to me than I can to him.

I tell myself that's so I can edit what's good and what's not before I start reading to him. There’s no sense in both of us being bored. Also, a book may brush up against some topics or get heavy into science or history that I know Chandler won’t be interested in. I know to save that book for later, and it goes in our TBR pool.

If a book is really good -- like The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan or Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series or Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers books -- I force myself to stop and wait until I can read it to Chandler. That way we can both be surprised and enjoy the story.

But sometimes I read books that will take too long to read to him, or the subject matter is still a little out of his reach, or I'll just get so caught up in the story and characters that I really don't have the willpower to resist the magical spell of the storyteller.

Some books -- like the Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist books by Jim Benton and the Wiley and Grampa Creature Feature books by Kirk Scroggs and Olivia by Ian Falconer -- deserve several readings. If Chandler's not around, I read through them myself, then enjoy them again with him.

As I've talked to other adults, I've discovered that many of them are reading children's and YA books as well. It's not just me. And some of them don't even have the excuse of having kids. I think there's something magic about kid lit that real readers just never recover from.

Kids' books are just more story and character driven. The action is compressed and moves all the time. And there aren't all those red herrings of relationship problems (except for friendship) to slow that pace down. And you know that good is going to triumph in the end and you're going to have a few chills, thrills, and laughs along the way. Not only that, but many of the books are part of a series. So you get additional adventures of your favorite heroes and favorite worlds. They’re shorter too, and they seem more possible to make a commitment to. I can usually read two or three kids’ books in the time it takes to read an adult novel. I feel like I’m reaching goals faster.

If you’re one of those people who used to read as a kid but just can’t make time for it any more, or you’re overwhelmed by the latest 600-page Stephen King opus, try reading kids’ books. Once you get back in the habit, you may find that you’re ready to make a commitment to a longer relationship with a longer book.

These books, in so many ways, are a return to my innocence. I think they are for all of us who have chosen to be kid readers for the rest of our lives.

What so many of us want to do with our kids is share the books from out youth with them. As many of you have probably discovered, you can’t. It’s sad.

I grew up reading Robert A. Heinlein and Andre Norton. That was back during the days when the idea of venturing out into space was new and exciting. To today’s kids, that’s just a walk in the park. And a boring one at that.

Not so long ago, I read The Cay by Theodore Taylor to my son. He listened to the story, but he just wasn’t as blown away by it as I was. He’s jaded to so many of the stories and characters. Admittedly, I am too. I rarely get blown away by a book these days.

But several of the books I listed in this piece are amazing, and well worth the time to read them.

If you’d lost the love of books but find it again in kid lit, please pass this message on. And give some of the really good books to your local public and school libraries. They’re always on the lookout for good books that will engage young minds.

Who knows? Maybe a parent will pick it up to read to their kid and we’ll keep winning readers back.


Sevenine said...

I'm drawn towards more kid lit myself. A few of those cover titles seem interesting; probably will be checking a few of them out.

Katie said...

Vampirate?! Holy Cow! I need that!