I have a theory – it is harder to write for children/young adults than to write for adult adults.  Why is this?  Well, first because kids’ books cannot rely on the faithful, standby plot contrivances of adults’ books – namely, sex and violence.  And second, because I think kids are a more difficult and discerning audience than adults.  I know this may seem strange and counterintuitive, but trust me on this one.  For example, children will not allow an author to take one hundred pages to set the stage for the story, they will not fill in the gaps where the author was too lazy to do so, and they will not be impressed by big words and convoluted sentences that do not actually say anything.

In short, I believe that children’s books have to be written sparingly and to-the-point.  And it is for precisely this reason that more adults should be reading them!  I know that the subject matter can, at times, be less interesting to adults – not everyone enjoys monsters or suspending disbelief or naughty children who win the day through sheer pluck and nerves.  But there are a tremendous number of really great books marketed for children and/or young adults that bear reading – and that I promise adults can enjoy!

Top Ten Kids’ Books Adults Can Enjoy

  1. A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engel
  2. The Golden Compass – Phillip Pullman
  3. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  4. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
  7. Here There Be Dragons – James A. Owen
  8. Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie
  9. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  10. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
About the author: A former corporate attorney and government relations/health policy executive, Jill-Elizabeth walked away from that world (well, skipped actually) and toward a more literary life (equally challenging, but infinitely more enjoyable).  If you enjoyed this review, please visit her at www.Jill-Elizabeth.com, the official home of All Things Jill-Elizabeth – that is, all of the teehees, musings, rants, book reviews, writing exercises, and witticisms of her burgeoning writing career.

List by: | June 17, 2011 | Entertainment

14 comments, join the conversation!

List written by: List Contributor

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14 Comments

  1. I LOVE the Phantom Tollbooth! I’ve read it so many times, and it is still one of my favorite books.

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  2. I’m glad someone agrees with at least one of my recommendations! :) I agree – it is a fabulous book, so fun and clever!!

    Reply
  3. By theme? In book bins? My kids have about 200 books and I can’t figure it out how to organize the books in and easy way that when my kids finishing reading they can put each book back where it belong by themselves. My kids are from 2 to 6 years old.

    Reply
  4. Number 9 was a classic. I completely forgot about that book but will make sure my son reads it as he gets older. Thx for putting this list together.

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    • You are so welcome Tom! The Narnia books are definitely one of my all-time favorite series – I hope your son enjoys them all!!

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  5. Nice list but What??? Not one Harry Potter in the bunch? Nor the Secret Garden, Or Anne of Green Gables? Ah, well, we all have our favorites. :-)

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    • Ah, Glory – I actually have talked about those in other posts on my own blog, but this list was devised after that and I didn’t want to be repetitive… :) I must admit I prefer A Little Princess to The Secret Garden, but Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter are definitely high on my list as well. I also tend to like to try to highlight books that are not entirely mainstreamed – there are so many great finds that not enough people ever learn about, in my estimation!

      Reply
  6. I am familiar with just few of the titles – yet I want to suggest the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series as they can truly be enjoyed from readers of all ages. And of course as Glory suggested the Harry Potter books are suitable as well

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    • Thanks for your comment skykid. I have not read the Wimpy Kid books but have seen the movies – LOVE THEM!! And according to reliable sources (the kids in my life), they track pretty well with the books, so I’m going to have to add them to my own “to be read” pile! As I said above, I do like to try to suggest new, unusual, less-common books whenever I can – they’re worth checking out, I promise! I do have other kid-to-adult books reviewed and referenced on my blog, if you are curious… :)

      Reply
  7. By theme? In book bins? My kids have about 200 books and I can’t figure it out how to organize the books in and easy way that when my kids finishing reading they can put each book back where it belong by themselves. My kids are from 2 to 6 years old.

    Reply
    • I am probably not the right person to ask, as I gave up organizing by theme, author, genre, etc. a while back because I simply have too many books (over 1200 at last count, according to my book tracker software – and those are just mine!)… As far as I’m concerned, as long as the books make it back onto the kids’ bookshelves and are not left on the floor, I consider it a good day! :)

      Reply
  8. Hey, Jill:

    I don’t have any kids yet, But someday I will and when that day comes, they are so gonna read most of the titles on your list – especially “The Wizard of Oz”. A personal fave of mine.

    Nice list.

    Cheers,
    Greg
    The eBook Reader Geek

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Greg – I couldn’t agree more about the Wizard, and many of its sequels were great too (Ozma of Oz is another personal favorite)! Thanks for the compliment and taking the time to comment!

      Reply
  9. Being a part-time kids book author myself, I have to agree with your statement that it’s harder to write for kids – primarily because they have a wider horizon and you have to be EXTREMELY creative for them to like the story or book.

    Reply

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