The Fall Children’s Book Week just wrapped up! There is also a Children’s Book Week in the spring. This is an annual celebration of books, children, and the joy of reading.
It was first established in 1919, and is currently the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. During this week schools, libraries, bookstores, and more celebrate books, literacy, and reading.
As a teacher and a children’s book author, my life is filled with children’s books. However, as a reader, I know that children’s books are NOT just for children.
One of the classes I teach at the University of Central Florida is Children’s Literature. It is a class designed for future teachers and immerses them in Children’s Literature. A student once described the class as a “Book Club on steroids”. We read, study, and explore all the amazing kiddie lit out there. Some are old favorites and students share memories of when they first read the book, (or had it read to them). And some are new titles. Some of the books everyone in the class loves, and some titles bring up interesting and valid objections and opinions. Universal themes, complex issues, raw emotions. That is what great children’s literature has.
There is not a parent, teacher, or grandparent out there who has not gotten choked up at some point when reading aloud to the children in their lives. I remember when my daughter texted me when she and my then 8-year-old granddaughter had finished reading The One and Only Ivan. She said that she was in tears through the last few pages and Ellie kept patting her shoulder and saying, “Its ok mommy.”
Most writers know, while the Young Adult Book genre is typically defined as books for the 12-18-year-old audience, publishers market to the adult reader as well. Think the Hunger Games or the Twilight series.
As Philip Pullman so eloquently said- some themes are just too much for adult fiction. That is why Children’s Books are not just for children.
So, as we celebrate these amazing books, pull out some old favorites and settle down to read them with fresh eyes.