I know, I'm a bit strange. But it honestly does baffle me. Maybe there are more adults out there reading kids' books than I realize, but I doubt it. Don't get me wrong - I know there are a few out there, beyond children's book writers and children's librarians and school media specialists. At work in my library I occasionally help an adult locate a children's book, which they reluctantly (and sheepishly, always sheepishly) admit is actually for themselves. Usually they want to revisit an old favorite from when they were kids (a few weeks ago it was Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey, and since that is one that I also revisit every few years, just because I love it so much, helping the patron find that book and talking about it was one of the highlights of my day). And occasionally it is someone who is curious about a book like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, or the Japanese manga books.
But I have no idea why it doesn't happen more often. These books are great! Not all of them, of course -- just like the ones in the adult sections aren't all great, either. But I can honestly say that I am certain that, if I were to pick up a book at random from adult fiction and a book at random from children's or young adult fiction, I'd almost certainly enjoy the kids' book more.
Is it that people are embarrassed? That it doesn't occur to them to see if there's anything interesting in that section for them? Even the Harry Potter phenomenon doesn't seem to have transferred to other books outside that series. Why is that?
Right now I'm reading Diana Wynne Jones's latest book, The Pinhoe Egg. I have been reading her books since I was a child -- the first one I picked up was Dogsbody (published in 1975), and I've been hooked ever since. These days, there aren't many authors left from my childhood who are still writing books (Joan Aiken and Paula Danziger come to mind as ones who died not too long ago, sigh). And the book is -- so far -- wonderful, funny and gripping. Which is unsurprising, since so many of hers are. What a treat to read this book.
Aren't there other adults out there who grew up reading her books that would enjoy reading this? Doesn't anybody ever check in the children's section just to see if there's anything new by their old favorite authors?
I sometimes make my friends read children's books. I bully them into it, tee hee. And they always enjoy them (or maybe they're just humoring me). Some that come to mind are The Dead Connection by Charlie Price; Sorcery and Cecelia, or, the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares; Holes by Louis Sachar; Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause; A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray; and A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. Those are just a few off the top of my head. There are so many amazing ones out there!