I spent part of my morning reading children’s books, and it was a great deal of fun. I wasn’t reading them aloud to a group of wide-eyed preschoolers—that’s pretty much my idea of cruel and unusual punishment. I was reading them to myself.
I happened to already be at the library working on writing, when I noticed the children’s section. I’ve recently seen a movie about Beatrix Potter, and I don’t remember ever having read any of her books. I probably have, but I read so many books that I cannot remember them all. I read The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck, and I can see why the books have remained in print for so many years. The illustrations are charming.
I’d also had a recent conversation about banned books with someone I met. We were discussing Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. This book is pure poetry, but I didn’t read it for many years because of the subject matter, assuming it would simply be a lurid work with no redeeming qualities. While the subject matter is distasteful, the treatment of it is not, and the beauty of the writing makes it worthy of multiple readings. Many of my favorite books have been banned, including The Lord of the Rings and The Catcher in the Rye. We were talking about children’s books, and I said at least Dr. Seuss had probably never been banned. On the contrary! My friend said that a book called The Sneetches had been banned in the South during the civil rights era. Since I didn’t remember what that book was about, I had to satisfy my curiosity. A lot of Dr. Seuss’s work is quite political, and this was no exception.
Of course, once I was in the kid’s section, other books caught my eye. I love the artwork in the picture books, and the sense of possibility and wonder in the stories. I spent a happy few hours reading a stack of books. I need to remember to do that once in a while, as I have no kids to bring these books into the house. It’s worth the time it takes to seek them out. I loved these types of stories when I was a child, and I still do.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
177. When was the last time you read a children’s book? Seek some out, and see what you think. Some of them are just for kids, but many have broad appeal. What did you think?