Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed. –G.K. Chesterton
I have always been captivated by Children’s Literature and Young Adult Literature. In times of stress or when the overwhelming reality of “adult life” piles up, I escape to the nearest book store, head straight for the children’s section, and find whatever book is popular for kids these days. For a while I was conflicted, shouldn’t I be drawn to those adult books lining the front of the store? The ones with tag lines like “New York Times Bestseller” or “Oprah’s Book Club Approved.” Why aren’t those the books I reach for with excitement and anticipation? Don’t get me wrong, I love those books too, but when I need an escape I reach for the books with Newbury Medals and the Scholastic “S” on the binding. I believe children’s books are a beautiful reminder of the important lessons in life we often forget when we are immersed in books about self help, financial freedom, business scandals, and the “perfect” relationship.
- Children’s books remind us we are the hero of our stories. The boy under the stairs can over come evil, saving those he loves. A boy no one believes in can lead an intergalactic team of kids to defeat buggers. A girl can sacrifice herself for her sister and spark a revolution. I find children’s books instill the value of the ordinary being extraordinary. The child protagonist is a hero without coming someone counter their character. These literary characters are fighting for what they know is right, even if not everyone agrees. It’s a beautiful thing to be reminded other people’s opinions don’t always matter.
- Children’s books provide a refreshing perspective on the world. I was a kid at a much different time in the world than kids today. Reading children’s books where cellphones and social media play a key role surprise me. When I was in middle school reading a series of books about a teenage girl and her life, never was a cellphone, laptop, IM, email, or texting mentioned. I was reading this series right on the cusp of the cellphone explosion. I-Phones didn’t even exist. Children’s books put a child’s world in cultural context.
- Children’s books spark imagination. It is when the adult decision making begins I believe people lose imagination. No longer can they fall down a rabbit hole to escape their problems or go where the wild things are when they mess up. Adults have to face reality head on. I think it is always important to remember to dream. To remember we are the creators of today, we are the ones who decide how our story ends.
So reach for the children’s book you’ve been itching to read and remember to dream.
Here’s my top five most recent children’s/young adult reads:
- Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
- Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
- Wonder by Raquel J. Palacio
- Looking for Alaska by John Greene