Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Great Day for Up

Do you ever read children’s books (not including reading them to your children)? Do you think children’s books have changed from when you were a child?

by Dietrich

It started with children’s books—that fascination with stories that came to life right off the pages. It was The Frog Prince, The Pied Piper, Rumpelstiltskin, and so many more by the Grimm brothers. And it was Aesop’s Fables and Roald Dahl. It was H.A. Key’s Curious George, and Howard Pyle’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, and L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, James Matthew Barrie’s Peter Pan, Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Mr. Tod, and many more. 

And there were the children’s books that seem like they were really written for adults, like Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. And I think I enjoyed the Harry Potter books as much as my young son did when I read them to him. And there are the so-called children’s books like Go The F*ck to Sleep by Adam Mansbuck that are really funny bedtime stories for parents.

Do I still read children’s books now? You bet. And I’ll probably never tire of the rhythm and the melodic sound of the words of Dr. Suess. So, every now and then I pick up Green Eggs and Ham or Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

And that brings up the second part of this week’s question: Do you think children’s books have changed from when you were a child?
Some things that didn’t seem inappropriate back when I was young, now don’t seem quite right. If I think about some of those Grimm stories—Cinderella’s stepsisters cutting off their toes to get their feet into a glass slipper, or Hansel and Gretel being abandoned by their father and stepmom—some of that may not seem as appropriate for bedtime stories. And wasn’t Goldilocks breaking and entering? Or, maybe I’m overthinking it.  

When I was a kid, illustrations in children’s books were good, but there weren’t that many, and often they were single-color line drawings. Nowadays, thanks to digital printing and perhaps larger budgets for this type of book, there are often full-color illustrations running from cover to cover. There’s some great art in kid’s books, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and Maurice Sendack’s Where the Wild Things Are, and I don’t remember anything like that when I was growing up. But, most kids come with colorful imaginations, so all they really need is a good story, and there have always been plenty of those around. And whether they’re new or old favorites that I’ve read time and again, I still have a soft spot for children’s books.


Susan C Shea said...

Your wonderful list reminded me of The Little Match Girl, as sad a story as any current news article. Now that I think of it, that one upset me, although I probably didn’t say so or look for any reassurance from my disfunctional parents!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Susan. Yes, The Little Match Girl is a classic — and you're right, it's very sad.