Why Adults Should Read Middle Grade Books

From Book Riot:

The TV show Ted Lasso was not at all on my radar until I started to hear about it everywhere — from friends, on social media, and even on my professional Slack network. I am not a sports person, but I do succumb to peer pressure when it comes to certain media, and like many I devoured the AppleTV show in a single weekend. One of my favorite episodes in season 1 is episode 3, “Trent Crimm: The Independent.” In it, Coach Lasso is working hard to connect to his new football team and inspire them to make some essential changes in how they interact with one another. In order to accomplish that, he gives them all books that he hand-picks for their various needs and personalities. To surly, gruff team captain Roy Kent, who resents Coach Lasso’s upbeat attitude, Lasso gifts a copy of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.

Roy reluctantly starts reading the book, which at first he dismisses as a book about a “little girl.” L’Engle’s classic is about Meg, a young girl whose father has disappeared. She learns that he is being held captive by an evil force on the other side of the universe, and she must rescue him with the help of three mysterious entities. In one of my favorite scenes in the entire first season, Roy is reading the book aloud to his niece when he comes across a passage that illuminates why Coach Lasso gifted him the book in the first place. “F****!” he yells when the realization hits, because he now understands what he needs to do next in order to bring his team together.

It’s one of the most relatable moments of the show for me, and I think it speaks to the subtle, quiet power of children’s books. Adults tend to view books written for children as childish or just silly entertainment, but those of us who write for kids (and teens) know that there is usually a lot more going on underneath the surface. We assume these books are childish, but that’s the deception: Children’s books tend to contain the same big, complex ideas about life that adult novels do…but they’re conveyed in such a way that a young reader can grasp them.

However, I don’t think that a children’s book has to contain a lesson or be emotionally complex in order to be valuable to child or adult readers. As adults, we read books that are entertaining or silly or simply fun escapes, and children’s lit can be that, too. The value in returning to these books as adults is in reminding ourselves what it’s like to be a kid, to gain a different perspective on the world, and to expand our understanding of different experiences and communities. And, of course, to be entertained.

The exciting thing about children’s literature is that it’s constantly changing, so if you’re an adult reading this, there are some amazing books that have been published since your elementary and middle school days, and children’s writers are constantly elevating the field with their incredible writing and stories. Even if you don’t have any kids in your life, there is no one stopping you from picking up some amazing children’s books that run the range from silly to serious and will help expand your perspective. 

Link to the rest at Book Riot