Why Read Children’s Books?
Sometimes, adults turn to children’s books to feel unabashed awe. They want to embrace a sense of wonder that other kinds of fiction may be too self-conscious to display.
Katherine Rundell understands this and writes an impassioned defence of children’s literature in her standalone essay, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise.
1. They’re Fun
Children’s books can take us to enchanting worlds where we imagine limitless possibilities and find hope. They also teach us about our own realities, often by examining the lives of young protagonists.
The characters in these books are not always “normal”; instead, they are often outsiders or eccentric. They make us realize that adults aren’t infallible, too. Whether it’s Mr. Popper living with 12 penguins or Officer Buckle imparting safety tips, they show kids that grown-ups aren’t perfect and it’s okay to laugh at them.
Children’s authors aren’t afraid to explore issues like bullying, mental health, and racial injustice. And in a society where political ructions often stem from the frustration of people who feel powerless, this is important. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child can help us understand our own powerlessness and offer some hope for the future.
2. They’re Educational
Educators have long believed that reading is a useful and worthwhile activity for all people, regardless of age. Children’s books provide valuable educational content that’s often embedded in stories that are a lot of fun to read.
For example, many children’s books feature multicultural characters. These books teach readers about other cultures, while fostering empathy for those who are different from them. Children’s books also explore themes like bravery and courage, which is a universally inspiring concept.
Revisiting children’s books can help adults rediscover the sense of innocent wonder that they had as a child. This kind of wonder can encourage adults to pursue their dreams and believe that anything is possible. It can also inspire them to make a positive impact on the world.
3. They’re Engaging
Children’s books engage kids because they are full of enchantment, fantasy, and a sense of wonder. Revisiting these books as an adult can rekindle that childhood sense of wonder in your life, allowing you to see the world from a new perspective and believe that anything is possible.
Many picture books tackle challenging subjects such as fear, loss, taking risks, and building friendships. They can also teach kids about cultures, lifestyles, and perspectives that are different than their own. And, if written by an author who shares the same identity as the reader, they can give a child a positive self-image through seeing themselves reflected in the characters of the book.
Sharing and giving back is another common theme in many children’s books. This can be a great way to show kids that the world is a large place and that everyone needs to help others.
4. They’re Heartwarming
Children’s books offer hope for the future, teach about diverse perspectives, and help people deal with difficult situations. They often have heartwarming messages that encourage readers to be kind and compassionate toward others, even in hard times.
The themes of children’s books are universal and relevant to the world today. Some of the most popular children’s books deal with topics like diversity, bereavement, eating disorders, and bullying.
Children’s books also provide a sense of wonder that adults can benefit from, too. Whether it’s Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland or Eva Ibbotson’s Journey to the River Sea, these books inspire awe and wonder. They give us child-like perspectives into adult issues that we can often forget as we grow older, and that is a valuable tool in life.
5. They’re Helpful
Often, children’s books teach important life lessons that can be applied to the real world. They also help kids develop social skills that will carry on to adulthood.
Sometimes, children’s books tackle tough topics that adults can relate to. For example, Kate DiCamillo’s stories are a wonderful way to introduce young readers to different cultures of our world and promote understanding between various groups of people.
Many children’s authors feel overlooked by the literary community, and they grumble about being relegated to “kiddie bookland.” They miss out on being placed on the shelf next to the likes of Norman Mailer or Saul Bellow. However, they do hold a special place in the heart of any reader. They enchant us with their wonder and awe of the colossal universe that awaits them, before their imagination is sanitized by adulthood.