Why do great books we read as children have a more profound effect on us than great books we read as adults? It’s hard to say, but YA novelist Anne Cardi comes up with a number of reasons, among them the ability of children’s books to permanently change our viewpoints. (FYI, weasked a bunch of teenagers to recommend last year’s best YA novels.)
What would The Road look like as a children’s book? The question is vaguely unsettling, but Jerry Puryear set out to answer it anyway, drawing up detailed mockups of literary children’s books and posting them on his Tumblr. At Slate, a selection of his book covers. (This might be a good time to look back on our US-UK Book Cover Battle.)
Why do we reread novels obsessively as children but hardly ever as adults? At The Morning News, Clay Risen discusses why rereading appeals to children so much. “It was a residual sense of wonder, left over long after I had accepted that the reality on the page and the reality beyond it are distinct.” Pair with: Our essay on the pleasures and perils of rereading.
This week has been full of news about unorthodox children’s book authors. First, there was Keith Richards’s picture book, and now an Australian academic claims that Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung wrote children’s books, too. “I was astounded that children’s books (purportedly) written by Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung were vastly more readable than one would expect from any political leader in the democratic west, still less a severe authoritarian,” doctoral student Christopher Richardson said.
In one of the most delightful photography projects of late, authors have dressed up as their favorite children’s book characters for Cambridge Jones’s 26 Characters exhibition at The Story Museum. Neil Gaiman looks particularly dashing as Badger from The Wind in the Willows. The exhibition will run from April 5 to November 2 in Oxford, U.K.
As adults, it’s easy for us to feel that everything fun is already finished, that all the worlds have already been thoroughly mapped, especially when it comes to books. The last time I felt that childlike glee of discovering a new world was with Harry Potter, and by that time I was already in college. Now Harry has vanquished Voldemort. Aslan has fought Last Battle. Frodo has destroyed the One Ring. Katniss has — well, in case you’re waiting for the movies, I won’t spoil it for you.
Here are five children’s series you might have missed when you were younger … Each offers a thoroughly imagined world that’s immersive enough to make you feel like a kid again, with writing sharp and smart enough to satisfy a book-loving adult. If they’re unfamiliar, I envy you: how lucky you are to get to read them for the first time now.