We may be older than the target audience, but age should never be a barrier for enjoying and appreciating good stories. Picture books, mid-grade, and young adult – the world teems with fantastic children’s fiction, and it's a shame to feel excluded by the amount of candles on a birthday cake. I am equally comfortable reading books by Evelyn Waugh and by Mary Norton on the tube, although get far more looks when seen with the latter.
I adore children’s picture books because I adore illustration. I’ve always enjoyed pictures that tell a story, or tell more of the story than the words beside it. There can be several layers of understanding within a tale, and this can be shown by the illustrations. Children may laugh at the picture of an octopus doing the washing up; adults might laugh at the bottle named ‘Sud Off’.
My love for picture books as an adult seems split between nostalgic memories and darker tales. For the former I enjoy books like The Church Mice by Graham Oakley and Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem. For the latter it would be The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, A Dark Dark Tale by Ruth Brown, or The Rabbits by Shaun Tan. I love the medium of picture books – especially the ones that treat children as intelligent beings who can grasp concepts, as well as understanding their humour. Now I am thinking of any book by Lauren Child – they are a perfect mix of fun language and brilliant illustrations. Even better, the author really knows her audience.
I also love reading and re-reading older children’s books. I collect classic Puffin titles, and enjoy escaping occasionally back into that world. Children’s books by their very nature are often seen as ‘light’ reads, yet they can be just as hard hitting as their adult counterparts. There is also a pleasing nostalgic element to some children’s books, which appeals to me. More importantly, some of them are just pure fun!
Do you still read children’s books? If so, which ones? Why do you like them?