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Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise

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Katherine Rundell – Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children – explores how children's books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children's fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world. This delightful and persuasive essay is for adult reader Katherine Rundell – Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children – explores how children's books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children's fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world. This delightful and persuasive essay is for adult readers. 'Rundell is the real deal, a writer of boundless gifts and extraordinary imaginative power whose novels will be read, cherished and reread long after most so-called “serious” novels are forgotten' Observer


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Katherine Rundell – Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children – explores how children's books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children's fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world. This delightful and persuasive essay is for adult reader Katherine Rundell – Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and prize-winning author of five novels for children – explores how children's books ignite, and can re-ignite, the imagination; how children's fiction, with its unabashed emotion and playfulness, can awaken old hungers and create new perspectives on the world. This delightful and persuasive essay is for adult readers. 'Rundell is the real deal, a writer of boundless gifts and extraordinary imaginative power whose novels will be read, cherished and reread long after most so-called “serious” novels are forgotten' Observer

30 review for Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    If hope is a thing with feathers, then libraries are wings.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    One of the (many) things people do that pisses me off is when I give a YA or middle grade book a low rating and people are like, "What do you expect it's for CHILDREN, this review is uNfaIr." As if children should settle for less because they're children As if children don't know good stories from bad because they're children As if adults still can't enjoy the wonder and nostalgia of their youth As if adults don't sometimes get sick of stressful adult stuff and yearn for a tiny bit of hope

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Beaumont

    What a delightful little book! It's short, but it contains a wealth of uplift and inspiration on how children's books rekindle the imagination and sense of wonder in adult readers. The author points out that reading children's books is not mindless escapism, not a hiding place, but a seeking place. And we should read them without shame, unlike those grownups who acquired the Harry Potter books concealed in dull, gray, "serious" covers especially issued for adults, so they could read them on the What a delightful little book! It's short, but it contains a wealth of uplift and inspiration on how children's books rekindle the imagination and sense of wonder in adult readers. The author points out that reading children's books is not mindless escapism, not a hiding place, but a seeking place. And we should read them without shame, unlike those grownups who acquired the Harry Potter books concealed in dull, gray, "serious" covers especially issued for adults, so they could read them on the bus or train without embarrassment. I have been reading children's books for a long time without embarrassment. Decades ago I realized that many of these wonderful books hadn't even been written when I was at the "right" age for them, so why should I miss out on them? If I hadn't realized this, I would have missed out on Harry Potter, Paddington Bear, Narnia, and "His Dark Materials." And books by so many of my favorite authors, such as Diana Wynne Jones, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Roald Dahl, Zilpha Keatley Snyder, and Eva Ibbotson. After reading this book, I find myself hoping that others will be encouraged to dip into children's books and discover what they've been missing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    “If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children’s book,” Martin Amis once said when asked if he’d ever thought of writing for younger readers. He added that writing for kids would force him to write “at a lower register” than the level at which he was capable of writing. Katherine Rundell duly notes Amis’s disdain for children’s literature as it is so much in keeping with people’s indulgent and mildly dismissive response to her when she tells them what she does for a living. There “If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children’s book,” Martin Amis once said when asked if he’d ever thought of writing for younger readers. He added that writing for kids would force him to write “at a lower register” than the level at which he was capable of writing. Katherine Rundell duly notes Amis’s disdain for children’s literature as it is so much in keeping with people’s indulgent and mildly dismissive response to her when she tells them what she does for a living. There’s “a particular smile that some people give,” she says, “roughly the same smile I’d expect had I told them I make miniature bathroom furniture out of matchboxes, for the elves.” However, as Rundell goes on to reflect in her little—literally 4” X 5”— book: “the human heart is not a linear train ride”. She says there’s a general sense among adults that we should always be progressing, but we actually don’t turn to books of increasing difficulty and complexity. That’s where children’s literature comes in. The best works of literature for the young, she intimates, aren’t just for them. “Children’s fiction necessitates distillation” rendering “in their purest, most archetypal forms hope, hunger, joy, fear.” Children don’t tolerate authorial pontificating, meandering, and self congratulation, so when authors, including Rundell herself, write for them, they use fewer words to put down the things they want children to know (arming them for life) . . . and adults to remember: “that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return.” I can’t argue with any of this, and while it was nice to see this and other ideas written down, I was still disappointed with this very slight book, which ultimately amounts to a Christmas stocking stuffer for the already converted—i.e., those who know children’s literature is not some lesser form of writing. I wished the book had provided more examples to flesh out the ways high quality children’s books can remind us (without being preachy or didactic) of enduring truths and the magic of being alive.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    A great 63-page essay on why adults should not be ashamed to read children’s books - something that I think a lot of people should read. I would have loved this to go into more detail than it did as I feel like so many points were rushed over and a lot of fantastic points were so close to being perfect but just missing by a fraction, and the whole point of why adults should read children’s books is, at times, buried beneath context that is also brushed over. Understandable in such a short text b A great 63-page essay on why adults should not be ashamed to read children’s books - something that I think a lot of people should read. I would have loved this to go into more detail than it did as I feel like so many points were rushed over and a lot of fantastic points were so close to being perfect but just missing by a fraction, and the whole point of why adults should read children’s books is, at times, buried beneath context that is also brushed over. Understandable in such a short text but I would have loved it if this was longer.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Most people, Rundell thinks, perceive children’s literature as a first stage in their evolution as a reader: it is to be gradually but firmly replaced with adult literature, and never revisited. But of course, as this standalone essay’s terrific title tells you, she believes such a decision would be shortsighted because children’s books have come a long way from the didactic texts they were in the 15th to 18th centuries and are now as magical, subversive and hopeful as anything marketed to adult Most people, Rundell thinks, perceive children’s literature as a first stage in their evolution as a reader: it is to be gradually but firmly replaced with adult literature, and never revisited. But of course, as this standalone essay’s terrific title tells you, she believes such a decision would be shortsighted because children’s books have come a long way from the didactic texts they were in the 15th to 18th centuries and are now as magical, subversive and hopeful as anything marketed to adults. Fairy tales and myths, far from being trivial, are central to our literature and have to be constantly reinterpreted. Rundell also makes a plea for libraries, remembering how important the children’s section of the Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe public library was to her when she was growing up. Favorite lines: “children’s fiction necessitates distillation: at its best, it renders in their purest, most archetypal forms hope, hunger, joy, fear. Think of children’s books as literary vodka.” “it’s to children’s fiction that you turn if you want to feel awe and hunger and longing for justice: to make the old warhorse heart stamp again in its stall.” (the last lines) “Children’s novels, to me, spoke, and still speak, of hope. They say: look this is what bravery looks like. This is what generosity looks like. They tell me, through the medium of wizards and lions and talking spiders, that this world we live in is a world of people who tell jokes and work and endure. Children’s books say: the world is huge. They say: hope counts for something. They say: bravery will matter, wit will matter, empathy will matter, love will matter. These things may or may not be true. I do not know. I hope they are. I think it is urgently necessary to hear them and to speak them.”

  7. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    4.5* I already love reading children’s book, and even chose a module on this topic when I studied for my English lit degree, so why would I try this essay? Well, I wanted to see what arguments the author came up with, and although this is a very short read, I did enjoy it. Rundell puts forward lots of great points but due to the format doesn’t dwell as much as I would have liked on them. Mind you, this is probably just enough to tempt readers to widen their horizons - if they’re willing, that is. 4.5* I already love reading children’s book, and even chose a module on this topic when I studied for my English lit degree, so why would I try this essay? Well, I wanted to see what arguments the author came up with, and although this is a very short read, I did enjoy it. Rundell puts forward lots of great points but due to the format doesn’t dwell as much as I would have liked on them. Mind you, this is probably just enough to tempt readers to widen their horizons - if they’re willing, that is. Her point on libraries did echo the ones Gaiman forwarded in Art Matters. Both touch on the main reason I come back: the sense of wonder. I still love feeling wonder, and plenty of adults do too, as can be seen by the popularity of Harry Potter and His Dark Materials. Part of the problem is this weird genre hierarchy, supposedly based on quality. It is something that annoys me enormously, and not just because I’m omnivorous in my reading. If you like reading one kind of stories, fine; if you like a variety, fine. There is no need to deprecate other genres, or people’s tastes. I live in hope. In the meantime, I’m going to check Rundell’s novels :0)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    A wonderful essay that celebrates the importance of children's literature in the lives of everyone no matter their age. Rundells covers a lot in this little piece - the origins of children's literature, its place in society now and the power it has to affect us even if we are no longer, officially, a child. Having read many books on the history and politics of children's literature, I felt that Rundell gave an excellent little introduction to the whole range of reading and will, I hope, inspire A wonderful essay that celebrates the importance of children's literature in the lives of everyone no matter their age. Rundells covers a lot in this little piece - the origins of children's literature, its place in society now and the power it has to affect us even if we are no longer, officially, a child. Having read many books on the history and politics of children's literature, I felt that Rundell gave an excellent little introduction to the whole range of reading and will, I hope, inspire others to head off in search of its rich history and past.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    A distilled tonic of a book that you can read in just a couple of hours. Filled with peps of inspiration about fairytales, nursery food, book memories and how we can recapture all those things in the books we write and read for children. If you're a librarian, teacher, or children's book reader, or writer, it will inspire you to read more of all the wonderful children's books out there. To think about how and why they were written, and remember the child you were when you first read them.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Favourite quote “Children’s books are not a hiding place, they are a seeking place.”

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liam Owens

    Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise is a book that every grown-up needs to read. At about 60 pages, it's more of an essay than a book - but don't be fooled by its brevity; in this short space, Katherine Rundell expertly guides the reader through the many facets of children's literature - its origins in the early 18th century, the Golden Age of children's literature responsible for producing classics like The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pan and The Jungle Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise is a book that every grown-up needs to read. At about 60 pages, it's more of an essay than a book - but don't be fooled by its brevity; in this short space, Katherine Rundell expertly guides the reader through the many facets of children's literature - its origins in the early 18th century, the Golden Age of children's literature responsible for producing classics like The Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pan and The Jungle Book (where didacticism was put aside in favour of adventure, friendship and imagination), through to the radical, politically charged modern masterpieces being published today. As a children's bookseller with a degree in children's literature, Rundell's argument that children's books are for adults as much as children is one I endorse entirely. Not a day goes by where I'm not trying to convince customers to get lost in the magic of children's books - whether it's escaping to the fantastical worlds of Jessica Townsend's Nevermoor and Abi Elphinstone's Erkenwald, or delving into more hard-hitting subjects like the refugee crisis and racial inequality in The Boy At the Back of the Class and The Hate U Give. There are wonders to be found within the pages of children's books and I hope that this book might help you seen them in a new light. Though, a piece of cautionary advice: once you dive into the rabbit-hole of children's literature it's rather tricky to get back out...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    There's a recent bestseller called What We Talk About When We Talk About Books. I tried to read it, and gave up because it was too pedantic for me. I much preferred a little book by Katherine Rundell, Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise. I'm going to ask you a question. Think about it, and you can answer at the end of the blog, when I give you my own answer. If you loved to read as a child, do you remember diving into a book that became your whole world? Thos There's a recent bestseller called What We Talk About When We Talk About Books. I tried to read it, and gave up because it was too pedantic for me. I much preferred a little book by Katherine Rundell, Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise. I'm going to ask you a question. Think about it, and you can answer at the end of the blog, when I give you my own answer. If you loved to read as a child, do you remember diving into a book that became your whole world? Those are the books I read, and never heard my mother talk to me. That book was my world while I read it. Here's the actual question. What's the last book that sucked you in that way? Can you still escape into a book? Rundell quotes W.H. Auden. "There are good books which are only for adults, because their comprehension presupposes adult experiences, but there are no good books which are only for children." Rundell says there are times in life when reading children's books might be the only thing that will do. She mentions our current times of Brexit and Trump, politics, racism, immigration issues, and says now is such a time for her. I had a time like that years ago. When I was twenty-two I was waiting to hear about a job I desperately wanted. The only books that I could read were Nancy Drew mysteries. They were escapism, but also about a strong, independent young woman. She asks what it's like to read as a child. I shared what she calls "the headlong, hungry, immersive quality of it." She said her need for books was "sharp and urgent, and furious if thwarted". Rundell, an award-winning British author, then looks at fairy tales, stories recognized in various forms since 1900 B.C. I immersed myself in those, The Blue Fairy Tale Book, The Red Fairy Tale Book. She says fairy tales are violent and bloody and unjust, and don't shield children or adults from that world, but a fairy godmother or a magic tree or a magician appears, and offers hope. She quotes Angela Carter as saying the fairy godmother means "heroic optimism". I could go on, but Rundell's message is that "Children's books say: the world is huge. They say: hope counts for something. They say: bravery will matter, wit will matter, empathy will matter, love will matter." She admits she doesn't know if that's true, but it's the message people have been passing on for centuries. This is a meaty little book. I bought my copy, and it's a book to come back to once in a while. That brings me back to my original question. If you were one of those readers who dove into a book, what's the last time you found such a book? Some of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books took me into that world, and I never looked up until I finished. I read each of them straight through in one day. Today, my answer would be one of Louise Penny's Armand Gamache books. They're the only books that take me to Three Pines, into Gamache's world. And, like fairy tales, those are stories of good and evil, darkness versus light. What is the last book that took you into a world where you actually lived?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    When I write, I write for two people: myself, age twelve, and myself, now, and the book has to satisfy two distinct but connected appetites. My twelve-year-old self wanted autonomy, peril, justice, food, and above all a kind of density of atmosphere into which I could step and be engulfed. My adult self wants all those things, and also: acknowledgements of fear, love, failure; of the rat that lives within the human heart. Rundell writes so beautifully, and this is perhaps my favourite of the When I write, I write for two people: myself, age twelve, and myself, now, and the book has to satisfy two distinct but connected appetites. My twelve-year-old self wanted autonomy, peril, justice, food, and above all a kind of density of atmosphere into which I could step and be engulfed. My adult self wants all those things, and also: acknowledgements of fear, love, failure; of the rat that lives within the human heart. Rundell writes so beautifully, and this is perhaps my favourite of the ‘5 star’ passages in this book. The problem is that this book reads a bit more like a promising outline than a conclusive thesis. I know that its small size (as big as a hand) suggests brevity, but it skips around the topic in a somewhat disjointed way - equal parts Rundell’s reading development and then unrelated offshoots like the topic of ‘Politics’ in children’s literature. It feels undeveloped, and never adds up to a satisfying sum of its sometimes brilliant parts. As an aside: I’m already convinced that children’s literature (the best of it, anyway) is good for all ages. In other words, she is just ‘preaching to the choir’ as far as I’m concerned. I do, wonder, though, if this slight book is enough to convince skeptics and naysayers. (Martin Amis, for instance)

  14. 4 out of 5

    avaa

    I hope some of yall adults can read this book and learn to stop rating ya books low bc they were too childish or not dark enough...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lauren James

    An essay - or, rather, a love letter - to childrens books and writing for children. It made me very proud to be an author for teenagers.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This insightful and beautifully written essay fits into a slim 63-page hardback but contains as many worthy gems as many a longer study. In nearly a dozen sections Katherine Rundell, herself a children's author, makes a powerful case for juvenile fiction not being inferior to adult fiction but worthy in its own right; and, more than that, it can offer what much adult fiction can't or won't. The author tries to put her finger on what those qualities are and, in my opinion, pretty much succeeds. Al This insightful and beautifully written essay fits into a slim 63-page hardback but contains as many worthy gems as many a longer study. In nearly a dozen sections Katherine Rundell, herself a children's author, makes a powerful case for juvenile fiction not being inferior to adult fiction but worthy in its own right; and, more than that, it can offer what much adult fiction can't or won't. The author tries to put her finger on what those qualities are and, in my opinion, pretty much succeeds. All this review will aim to do is to give a flavour of the main points she enumerates. First she emphasises that children's fiction is "not exclusively for children" as anybody who conscientiously reads this literature without being the target audience can confirm. Yet there are those so wedded to a false concept of 'progress' that they will think that kids lit is of less worth than adult fiction. As the author says, there is a place for fart jokes, dinosaur facts and diaphonous fairies, but there is more to this genre than these kinds of topics. Four sections provide an overview of the history of children's fiction down to today and celebrate the immersiveness of childhood reading and the genre's intrinsic values: 'wild hungers' and, in Angela Carter's marvellous phrase, 'heroic optimism'. This last was in reference to the message that many fairytales (and fiction using fairytale tropes) provide what Rundell calls "the miracle of hope". She correctly points out that fairytales "were never just for children" and that by providing a message of hope they speak to all ages, especially during times when it's all too easy to despair from a sense of powerlessness. Shen then has a section on politics -- not party politics but this very issue of a balance of power. Children's fiction, she declares, was and is "specifically written to be read by a section of society without political or economic power," and its messages, often more hidden than explicit, can be mildly subversive if not dangerous. (In a good way, of course.) She later has strong words to say about a lack of diversity in UK publications for young readers, pointing out that though a little over 31% of school children are from minority ethnic origins, just 4% of books issued in a recent year featured BAME characters. Her next focus is on imagination in kids' books, for reading them "can teach us not just what we have forgotten but what we have forgotten we have forgotten." More than that, book say something essential: they say "hope counts for something." The miracle of hope fairytales provide is present in good literature, a counterblast to all that is ugly in life. Nil desperandum is what they whisper, and sometimes even shout. And the place to find this hope, distilled into compact form? The library of course, the place so despised by law makers that they deprive it of funds, thus depriving young minds of hope. Rundell finishes off her impassioned plea with a final powerful truth: So defy those who would tell you to be serious, to calculate the profit of your imagination... Ignore those who would call it mindless escapism: it's not escapism: it is findism. Say it loud, then: Children's books are not a hiding place, they are a seeking place. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a scoundrel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    “Children’s novels...spoke and still speak of hope. They say: look, this is what bravery looks like. This is what generosity looks like. They tell me, through the medium of wizards and lions and talking spiders, that this world we live in is a world of people who tell jokes and work and endure. Children’s books say: the world is huge. They say: hope counts for something. They say: bravery will matter, wit will matter, empathy will matter, love will matter. These things may or may not be true. I “Children’s novels...spoke and still speak of hope. They say: look, this is what bravery looks like. This is what generosity looks like. They tell me, through the medium of wizards and lions and talking spiders, that this world we live in is a world of people who tell jokes and work and endure. Children’s books say: the world is huge. They say: hope counts for something. They say: bravery will matter, wit will matter, empathy will matter, love will matter. These things may or may not be true. I do not know. I hope they are. I think it is urgently necessary to hear them and to speak them.” “I still find libraries astonishing; I still think they speak to our better instincts. The library remains one of the few places in the world where you don’t have to buy anything, know anyone or believe anything to enter in.” Elena Ferrante calls fiction “a fishing net that captures daily experiences, holds them imaginatively, and connects them to fundamental questions about the human condition.” Scene from 1949 movie Adam’s Rib: Katherine Hepburn questions her secretary about the moral double stands of the day. Her secretary says, “I don’t make the rules.” “Sure you do,” says Hepburn. “We All do.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Luana

    Those who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true. And perhaps, also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and necessary heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return. Within just a small package, this encapsulated an entertaining exploration of children's literature, from its historical roots, going all the way back to fairytales Those who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true. And perhaps, also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and necessary heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return. Within just a small package, this encapsulated an entertaining exploration of children's literature, from its historical roots, going all the way back to fairytales where "hope is sharper than teeth", to a glorious diverse discovery of today's works. During this journey we delve into the subversive politics that can be found even in the classics, and the untrammelled imagination of an "open heart" and mind encouraged in the pages of children's books. Rundell includes her own personal history and experiences with children's books in a way that integrates with the exposition and gives a window into the author's own life and thoughts in an engaging way. Ignore those who would call it escapism: it’s not escapism: it is findism. Children’s books are not a hiding place, they are a seeking place. There is so much affection, wit and information that fitted into these 63 pages that it is sign of just how good the editing is. WYSRCBETYASOAW was also full of quotable moments and it turned into such a 'want to keep' book that I ended up buying it after returning my library copy. If hope is a thing with feathers, then libraries are wings.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This is an essay published as a small book. It deserves to be a book because the theme is so important, and the author makes the point so convincingly. She is writing in the context of a new era which includes Brexit, a childish president in the US, and a world that often makes less sense every day. Rundell writes books for children : “… what I try for when I write …is to put down in as few words as I can the things that I most urgently and desperately want children to know and adults to remembe This is an essay published as a small book. It deserves to be a book because the theme is so important, and the author makes the point so convincingly. She is writing in the context of a new era which includes Brexit, a childish president in the US, and a world that often makes less sense every day. Rundell writes books for children : “… what I try for when I write …is to put down in as few words as I can the things that I most urgently and desperately want children to know and adults to remember”. As a writer of fiction for children, she is often dismissed as “less than” someone who writes for adults. Rundell says “At the risk of sounding like a mad optimist: children’s fiction can reteach you how to read with an open heart”. This is a book for everyone. Not just teachers. Not just parents. Everyone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    I shall be dropping this into the hands of everyone who asks me why I'm reading children's books in future

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mihaela Sorlea Tentis

    Beautiful and insightful- a short essay about the importance of reading children's books without feeling ashamed and it contains surprising statistics about - "only 4% of books published/ year had any character who were black, Asian or minority ethnic but that 31.2% of school children are from minority ethnic origin". A must read. "Children's books are not a hiding place, they are a seeking place".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura Angell

    A lovely short essay on the importance of having both an open mind and an open heart when it comes to reading children's books as an adult. As someone who enjoys reading books that my peers would deem too childish, I found the passion and conviction Katherine Rundell writes with to be very moving and powerful.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emma Read

    An absorbing essay on the wonder and importance of children's books. Down with snobbery and shame - children's books are where we find our freedom! An uplifting and quotable book

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katja

    A friend asked me recently why I predominantly read young adult and middle grade fiction nowadays. My response was: "If I want to feel depressed, I read the news". She laughed, but I really meant it. The types of stories I like (namely stories about normal people in interesting circumstances) are usually found in literary fiction and those books tend to depress me. A lot. I find the world at the moment hard to stomach with climate change, Trump, Brexit, the state of the EU, the rise of right-win A friend asked me recently why I predominantly read young adult and middle grade fiction nowadays. My response was: "If I want to feel depressed, I read the news". She laughed, but I really meant it. The types of stories I like (namely stories about normal people in interesting circumstances) are usually found in literary fiction and those books tend to depress me. A lot. I find the world at the moment hard to stomach with climate change, Trump, Brexit, the state of the EU, the rise of right-wing populism and neo-nazi terrorism on the rise in both Germany and Europe, the mass extinction that no one talks about etc. etc. I could go on. Kids' books have a strong moral compass. Life for the characters is hardly ever easy, but the books have something in them that differentiates them from adult fiction: Hope. And strong ethics. Katherine Rundell points out all of these points in her wonderful essay (better than I just did), it's a marvelous pledge to dive into children's literature every now and then to find a part of yourself that you forgot. And to feel a bit hopeful again. I might also add the wonderful spectrum of storytelling you find in YA novels nowadays: In the last two months I read about a young ballet dancer modelling for Edgar Degas, a 2.50 meter tall boy from the Philippines, a family living through the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philly, a girl genius battling normal teenage life, a boy living with Hitler on the Obersalzberg and a wonderful portrait of a British family in WWI - to name just a few. I find it hard to find this spectrum of interesting stories in adult fiction, and if I do (as I said) they usually depress me, with listless characters drifting through the story and usually un-happy endings. Too much like real life in the 21st century for my taste. I will definitely not abandon YA fiction for that very reason. If you need convincing, read Rundell's essay, it's so worth it. Here's to a better world and more good books!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Owen Townend

    I can't agree more with this title or indeed the rest of the essay. Rundell really gets to the heart of why children's fiction is glorious. If more of us 'mature' types went back over the formative fiction of our youth then we might feel the same bubbling excitement at the turn of every page and the knowledge that ultimately everything will end exactly as it should. It surprised me to read snarky quotes from literary authors like Kingsley Amis and W H Auden. It seems the bigwigs of the past looke I can't agree more with this title or indeed the rest of the essay. Rundell really gets to the heart of why children's fiction is glorious. If more of us 'mature' types went back over the formative fiction of our youth then we might feel the same bubbling excitement at the turn of every page and the knowledge that ultimately everything will end exactly as it should. It surprised me to read snarky quotes from literary authors like Kingsley Amis and W H Auden. It seems the bigwigs of the past looked down on books written for younger audiences. Then again, when you pride yourself in writing about 'real issues', I suppose you're bound to have forgotten how real the issues of childhood are. The true story of one's youth, like a book from long ago, is too soon forgotten. This essay has certainly renewed my desire to seek fairy tale variations from all cultures and maybe try my own twist on the classics. As for the more contemporary books of my early years, I really must pick them up again and see what new things I discover within their pages. Re-reading is good so re-reading something from over a decade ago must be better. Like Rundell suggests, it may well lead to another level of self-understanding. I recommend Why You Should Read Childrens' Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise to those who are in any doubt about the perks of reading below their age range.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cara (Wilde Book Garden)

    This is a book for anyone who loves stories, even a little. There's not a page of it that isn't exquisite and funny and hopeful and brave...which is appropriate, considering those are some of the many adjectives that can be used to describe children's books. And of course, this book is also true: Stories matter. Children's stories are not inferior. Imagination is (ironically) almost unimaginably important. -These are just some of the many ideas Rundell covers with grace and humor and passion. In fa This is a book for anyone who loves stories, even a little. There's not a page of it that isn't exquisite and funny and hopeful and brave...which is appropriate, considering those are some of the many adjectives that can be used to describe children's books. And of course, this book is also true: Stories matter. Children's stories are not inferior. Imagination is (ironically) almost unimaginably important. -These are just some of the many ideas Rundell covers with grace and humor and passion. In fact, these 60 tiny pages are a distillation of so many things I've been saying for years, but described in a much more wise and eloquent way. I feel unequal to reviewing it in a way that does it justice, but I hope I've conveyed some small measure of its power and of how profoundly it speaks to me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Felicity

    A delightful essay about why we should all read children's fiction. People I know have often been surprised or teased me about the fact that I still love reading children's fiction. I have often found it more comforting and sometimes more imaginative than adult novels. I love adult novels too but for different reasons and I don't see why we can't read both. Katherine Rundell is herself an excellent author of children's fiction and she expressed so well why I love reading children's fiction. It em A delightful essay about why we should all read children's fiction. People I know have often been surprised or teased me about the fact that I still love reading children's fiction. I have often found it more comforting and sometimes more imaginative than adult novels. I love adult novels too but for different reasons and I don't see why we can't read both. Katherine Rundell is herself an excellent author of children's fiction and she expressed so well why I love reading children's fiction. It empowers you and reminds you not to give up on your dreams you had. Sometimes we need that. Especially in the world we are currently dealing with. An excellent manifesto about reading children's fiction no matter how old you are. It made me want to re-read some of the classics I grew up on and educated me about how the children's novel has developed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    SahooraQ

    It’s a book about her life in reading since childhood.. how and what effected her in becoming a children’s fiction writer..it’s a bout what to consider when writing a book for children.. Then she talks about fairy tales through out the centuries and how they’ve changed..about the elements of those stories..some things that I did not notice while reading..By then she starts showing us how and why it’s important for adults to read children’s books.. These are a few reasons she mentioned: * To remind It’s a book about her life in reading since childhood.. how and what effected her in becoming a children’s fiction writer..it’s a bout what to consider when writing a book for children.. Then she talks about fairy tales through out the centuries and how they’ve changed..about the elements of those stories..some things that I did not notice while reading..By then she starts showing us how and why it’s important for adults to read children’s books.. These are a few reasons she mentioned: * To remind us of what we felt and what we need to start all over again. * To give us hope that no matter how difficult things can be; there will always be a solution at the end. * It helps us refind what we may not even know we have lost.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    A love letter to children's literature, the title of this short essay says enough about its contents. While I truly appreciate the contents and the larger image she creates, it saddens me that she only briefly touches upon various pivotal points in the history of children's literature. I think this work would have benefitted from a higher page count. However, if you're like me and study children's literature, this book could be a nice gift to the people that do not see this as a real field of st A love letter to children's literature, the title of this short essay says enough about its contents. While I truly appreciate the contents and the larger image she creates, it saddens me that she only briefly touches upon various pivotal points in the history of children's literature. I think this work would have benefitted from a higher page count. However, if you're like me and study children's literature, this book could be a nice gift to the people that do not see this as a real field of study.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    A beautifully produced essay on the joys of children's literature by one of the UK's leading exponents of the art. Katherine Rundell's central argument is that adults should not feel embarrassed or ashamed to read children's books and that sometimes they can be the best books to help you through difficult times. I've spent a large part of my career working with books for children so I'm unlikely to disagree with her on either the stunning range of children's books out there or their ability to g A beautifully produced essay on the joys of children's literature by one of the UK's leading exponents of the art. Katherine Rundell's central argument is that adults should not feel embarrassed or ashamed to read children's books and that sometimes they can be the best books to help you through difficult times. I've spent a large part of my career working with books for children so I'm unlikely to disagree with her on either the stunning range of children's books out there or their ability to get to the heart of the matter. At a time when we are divided more than ever, the particular magic of children's books is ripe for discovery by more adults than ever before.

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