Why All Adults Should Read Children’s Books

Laura D'Alessandro
Laura D’Alessandro

Someone has told me that comics and children books are degenerating intellectuality. This person said it directly to my face with a mocking tone while I was reading Case Closed –a Japanese comic book that made me love crime series, thriller movies and detective stories. This person said that “comics are for kids”, and “reading children’s books and comic books will not bring any good.”

I was shocked at that time. I tried not to burst out in laughter. First, what this person said is totally unreasonable. Second, this person addressed comic books as children’s books. Third, as far as I know, comic books and children books have nothing to do with intellectual degeneration.

Just like this person, some people still assume that comics and children books (picture books or children’s novels) are mostly carrying out shallow subjects. We can’t blame them for having that kind of assumption. I somewhat agree that some of children’s books still put their focus on happy thoughts, sugars, butterflies, and everything nice and sweet –while the world out there is actually pretty bitter and full of choking surprises.

But I keep on reading children books because, just like what Dr. Louise Joy, a Cambridge University academic, as quoted in The Independent, it is a “symbolic retreat from the disappointment of reality.”

As an adult, I read children’s books to escape from the bitterness of modern life.

It is not essentially wrong. Dr. Louise Joy also stated that classic children books that we love, like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach “…offer a world where self-consciousness is overthrown and relationships are straightforward.” She also added that “relationships in the real adult world are often fraught by miscommunication and the impossibility of understanding one another properly.” She also said that it also applies to other favorite titles of modern children’s books.

I am not a researcher, but I believe that the escapism from the ‘real adult world’ also could be found from any books, including illustrated books for children or comic books.

Yes, children’s books are for entertainment purpose. Maybe, for the younger children, these books are made for them as some nice, soft cereals for children before they “chew” harder books. But, sometimes people forget how books that could change their perspective in life could come from anywhere.

When I was a kid, my father gave my sister and I some copies of Enid Blyton’s “The Famous Five” series. The adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog have given us a knowledge that after tiring homework and endless assignment, holidays will come and we will have other new adventures waiting for us, as long as we endure the school days well.

Another family’s friend gave us some copies of other favorite books written by Enid Blyton. One of them is “House At The Corner” . This is one of the book that makes me feel that “you could feel okay, as long as you write down your feelings into stories just like Lizzie, the bookish daughter of the family did”. The same person also let us read her copy of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda” –the book that makes me feel that I could travel anywhere just by reading a book, and also to treat people nicely or I will end up like Miss Trunchbull from the book.

Children’s books, even when the books don’t tell magical stories and set in modern life, have given me a lot of valuable lessons.

Several months ago, I read a children’s book that becomes one of the most impressive books I’ve read. This book becomes one from a list of book titles that I engraved in my mind as: a book that has changed my perspective and made me face this life as an adult. The title of the book is “The Lion and The Bird”, written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc, a graphic designer and an illustrator. “The Lion and The Bird” was published by Enchanted Lion, who also published a lot engaging children’s books.

It tells a story about a lion who lives alone and becomes a farmer for living. On a day before the winter comes, the lion finds a wounded bird who failed to migrate with other birds. For the next days, the lion takes care for the bird’s wounds. They eat together, play together over the fields covered with snow. Basically they spend the whole winter together, side by side.

The bird can’t stay at the lion’s place forever. When the spring comes, it’s the time for the bird to fly away. When the lion says how well he knows about the bitter fact that the bird must leave, we could see the lion’s painful look. Beneath that painful look –the look of knowing that something that he cares dearly is about to leave him, the lion gives a hint of smile. The lion knows, as the book said, “…and so it goes. Sometimes life is like that.”

As a young twenty something, I can’t help but dealing with a lot of farewells. When I read that book, I remembered all the farewells I have seen in my life. Either it is a forever-kind-of-farewell, or see-you-soon-farewell, farewells make me suffocated. Farewells remind me with hope that was lost, love that was buried, and hearts that were broken.

In the book, the lion keeps on waiting and make himself busy, reading books, rowing at the lake, but he keeps on missing his little friend, the bird who goes migrate.

It’s like a reflection of my life right now, and I assume everyone’s life, that we are currently waiting for something that we have lost to come back to us in the future.

The lion is quite lucky that the bird is coming the next winter, just like when they first met. I know that somewhere in the future, all of things that I have yearned for a long time to come back will come back to me one day. In the meantime, I will face my life just like an adult, keep myself busy without losing my hopes.

For me, it’s amazing that there is a children’s book that could teach children how to deal with difficult, hard-to-face emotions, like loss and grief. Since I read the review about that book, I bought the book and searched for other children’s books that tell deep, difficult feelings that everyone –including children and adults, could face in everyday life.

I truly believe that the joy of reading could come from any books. There are some adults out there that may feel so exclusive about the books that they choose to read. Adults tend to forget that generalizations about books’ depths could actually lead them to a disservice towards the value of reading. How reading could improve our minds, affects how we deal with difficulties in life.

Back to the remarks from the friend that I mentioned earlier, I did not laugh in front of this person. It’s just not what adults do. I just keep on reading my comic book. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Brand consultant by day, writer by night. Currently lives in Jakarta.

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