08 October 2011

Why do adults read children's books?

You know, sometimes a hat is just a hat.

This recent article from The Independent references Cambridge University academic Dr. Louise Joy, who puts forth the theory that adults read childrens literature to escape the stress and demands of adult living; that they yearn for a simpler way of life, like you would find in a childrens book. Must be because being a kid is so easy, right? Her forthcoming book, Literature's Children, focuses on The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, and the works of Tolkein, Carroll and Dahl. Uhm....21st century anyone? By that sampling I think it would be fair to surmise that adults must read childrens books out of a yearning for anytime before 1950.

I think I'll overthrow self-consciousness and have a straightforward relationship now
I'm pretty sure the millions of adults (and I don't have an exact figure on hand, so humor me on this one) who have read The Hunger Games are not hankering after anything in that book. This is my theory: grown-ups read kids book because (wait for it......) they are good! They are enjoyable. They make you think, whether it is about home cooked meals (which according to this article is a staple of The Hobbit, yet not really what I remember the book for) or the morality of twenty-six teenagers slugging it out to the death. The best childrens books do what the best adult books do--they touch readers. No age requirement--or justification--required.


Roberta said...

Well, there's that time factor, too. It doesn't take quite as long to get through a good children's book. :-)

Jil Casey said...

You make a good point. Besides good stories, some people like the illustrations, which can be very art worthy too.

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