One Writer’s Journey

May 2, 2018

Children’s Book Week: Adults and Children’s Books

I have to admit that I don’t remember it but my parents told the story, and recited the text, often enough that I believed them.  My favorite book was apparently Puffy the Puppy.  “Puffy the puppy is fat and well fed, Puffy the Puppy is asleep in his bed.”  You absolutely must recite those two lines while rolling your eyes every time to book is mentioned.  It was my favorite but I made my parents read it so often that they hated it.

Then there was my cousin Carol and Pinocchio.  My grandfather may have read it so often that he got a little punchy but he had fun with it.  By the time Bumpa was done, Pinocchio was fleeing Chicago-style gangsters complete with gangster accents.

Even before I started writing, I understood that adults are the gate keepers.  This is especially true at the picture book level.  That means you have to throw the adults a bone.  Some authors do this by making their books fun enough to read aloud that the adults don’t entirely mind reading it 87 times in one week.  Let’s  just say that my son may be a college freshman but my husband and I can still recite Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance.  

Another way to offer something to the older reader is with humor.  Young readers will get it at one level but older readers will get something else.  Jeanie Ransom does this with her pun-filled What Really Happened to Humpty Dumpty.  The books of Dan Santat and Jon Scieszka are warped enough to amuse adult readers.  Well, certain adult readers.  The ones like me.

Nonfiction picture books that make use of sidebars also offer something to older readers. Younger readers can stick with the shorter text.  Older readers can build on the experience by also reading the sidebars.

What children’s books do you love that appeal to the adults who share the reading experience with pre-readers?

–SueBE

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