Children’s (& Illustrated) Books: Being an adult reader

I get a lot of grief sometimes because I prefer young adult and kids books to adult books. I am not going to lie, I probably ‘should’ read more adult fiction, at 25 its about time I did, but I find I don’t like a lot of what I try and to be honest, there are adult authors that I will read, just not many. The thing I want to discus today is the benefit of reading kids books and what they can do for you, without you even realising.

Last week I was ill, I think it was food poisoning. I was in bed for over 24 hours and it took me a good few days to recover. Prior to the illness I had started reading The Quietness by Alison Rattle, this is a YA set in Victorian London and is about the baby farms that cropped up in the area. I was only 30 pages in when my illness struck and to be honest I didn’t want to read something that heavy when I was throwing up. So I picked up some of my books for younger audiences. It lead to a weeks worth of reviews for books aimed at the 7+ age range; the books that have featured so far on my blog this week.

First up there was Wayland, which was a bit of a strange one because its not really got an age associated with it. It was good and easy going, but didn’t make me feel that much better. Oliver and the Seawigs cheered me up completely though and made me laugh, even though it hurt to laugh! I loved it and I didn’t want to put it down. Then there was Flora & Ulysses, one of the best books I have read all year and a book that reminded me of what it felt like to be 10 again.

Each of these books left me with something, some feeling of childishness but also some lesson that I had long since forgotten. In Oliver and The Seawigs there is a lot of emphasis on treating people the way you want to be treated. In Flora & Ulysses its clear that, as an adult especially, it is a good idea to step back and view the whole picture occasionally, check how you are acting is effecting others. Then in Wayland, well thats all about greed and how far some people can go, how that can hurt others and just how much love means to people, it’s truly beautiful.

The best thing about these messages is that they were ingrained in the story, they weren’t obvious but they were there and they were there as part of a fantastic story that made me laugh, cry and feel alive. They were fun, entertaining and special and I loved each one of them for different reasons. I decided a long time ago to shrug it off when people mention that I ‘don’t read real books’ because they are all read books, they are all brilliant and worthy of as much praise as those literary tomes you come across in the adult section.

I think that children’s books are more important for reminding us of the life lessons we learnt so long ago but forgot in the havoc that is real adult life. They make us feel better, and make us laugh but they also carry important messages and some people in particular need to remember those. I want to be a fun adult, I want to have a laugh and not worry about deadlines, money and responsibility… I can deal with those things in a fun way if I remember how to and children’s books have great grounding for me so that I can remember how to be fun.

That’s my two pence worth and I hope that this post made sense. I know I’m preaching to the choir as a lot of my fantastic readers are already fans of the YA or Children’s literature out there, but some people may be interested in my views so I thought I’d share!

  • I’m 21 and I love YA, that’s not gonna change, although I do feel a little weird going into the teen section of Waterstones when there are actual teens there!

  • I’m 33 and I still pick up YA sometimes. There are a lot of great authors out there writing YA and they ARE easier going and more fun than a lot of adult books. That said if you want something fun and easy going try Terry Pratchet’s Disc World series, the brilliant Peter Grant series by Ben Aarnovitch or, one of my favourite books ever, cowpocalypse – hilarious.

  • SFR

    Don’t worry about it! I would still read The Babysitter’s Club if I knew it wouldn’t affect my love life 😛 I am hooked on trashy romance novels though, clearly I need to get out more! Read what you want to read, isn’t it more important that you like to read?! 🙂 x

  • I’m kinda torn – if I want to read something with pictures I’ll choose a graphic novel, if I’m not consciously choosing a graphic novel then I’m not sure I want pictures. However, when they’re there for a reason (In the Shadows of Blackbirds) I see the point and it’s great once in awhile.

    I’ve recently read Double Crossing by Richard Platt which is supposedly for 9-12 year olds and I really disliked most of the illustrations – I just didn’t think they were very good but appreciate younger readers may rely on them a little or gain something from them.

    Maybe I should shut up now 😉 x

  • I’m 26 and I still mostly read YA. I read ‘adult’ books as well but often find more to relate to in YA, and I think the plots are more exciting and absorbing!