Judging a Book by Its Reader’s Age

SHOULD THE term “children’s literature” even exist at all?’ asked Tim Martin in The Guardian yesterday. He was writing a blog post that began by commenting on Neil Gaiman’s win of the Newbery (for The Graveyard Book) and went on to ask why children’s books rarely make it on to lists like The Guardian‘s recent 1000 Books That Everyone Must Read.

Martin’s question does not imply that there are no children’s books that deserve to be called literature, but asks why these books should be put in a different category in the first place.

I agree that when it comes to recommending books, a good book is a good book no matter who it was written for. I think quality writing appeals to everyone. It’s only a matter of personal choice in writing style, genre etc that determines one’s final choice in reading matter. Well, that’s my take anyway.

I have had this conversation and variations of it with various people who do not read children’s books because, they say, there isn’t time to do so and get through the classics and lit fic on their lists. I reply that the problem is putting labels on books and deciding that one sort of book (eg literary fiction) is better than another (e.g. genre fiction) and so, more worthy of one’s attention and time. The only labels that should apply is “good” and “well-written”. Otherwise, you will deprive yourself of the pleasure of reading a great many good books.

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