Is It OK to Read Kids' Books?
As someone who feels guilty about everything, including how guilty I'm always feeling, I relate to this Sparkler.
Once upon a time, I was in love with the English language. To be more specific, I was in love with literature—so in love that I have become president of my school's book club as well as an interning assistant for one of our English teachers. It seems, however, that lately the flames of passion for the art of dissecting the written word have died in me. There was a point not so long ago at which I was an active participant in any literary discussion and couldn't seem to keep my wandering eyes from finding interest in the text of the back of a cereal box let alone a novel. However, an agonizing month has passed now in which I've found barely any text remotely intriguing; the exception to this being-- to my dismay-- books written for an audience of approximately ten years old. I suppose it's a good thing that I have found a genre of books I particularly enjoy, but I'm nearly ready to graduate, and I feel like by now I should be far past reading books with extra-large text and a Disney logo on the cover. Besides that, any literary discussions lately seem to have lost their appeal to me. Not so long ago, I zipped through the classic and dominated class discussions, but this new development has me feeling like I'm regressing. Considering that I plan on teaching secondary or college-level English in the future, what method would you suggest I use to get back into age-appropriate material and discussions again?
For one thing, I think you should cut yourself some slack. There's nothing wrong with reading kids' books. Maybe you're retreating into them because you're going through a tough time, and they're comforting; maybe you're fascinated with them because you're destined to write children's books yourself; or maybe the stuff you're reading in class this semester just doesn't do it for you. For whatever reason, you need a break from reading and analyzing great works of art. And that's fine! Try to enjoy it and go with it without feeling guilty.
You're probably going through a phase that you'll grown out of naturally. But if you want to hurry yourself along, try to figure out what it is about these children's books that's appealing to you right now, and then find that same quality in adult books. If you're enjoying stories about friendship, try The Pursuit of Love in a Cold Climate. If you like clean, pared-down text, go for a little Hemingway. If you're into fairy tales, check out Kissing in Manhattan.
Don't feel you need to cut children's books out of your life completely, even once you regain an interest in literary fiction. If you're obsessed with any aspect of art, I say go with it and see where it takes you. You might wind up writing the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.
Do you have any guilty reading pleasures?
Related post: How to Write a Children's Story