If you're like me--and you probably are, if you read our blog regularly--you're flummoxed by the more-than-occasional lofty attitudes of those who see children's and YA books as easy-to-write, easy-to-digest pabulum for people who haven't quite graduated to the level of reading or writing grown-up books.
So I made this list. It's by no means exhaustive, but I couldn't stop thinking about all the memorable words and ideas and history and everything else that I encountered for the first time in kids' books and teen books--and not just when I was young, either. And just to put this out there, I do read grown-up books, and I do write grown-up short stories. So there.
As a kid, without those kids' books I wouldn't have learned about dodecahedrons or tesseracts. Those books taught me what a veruca was, and what makes somebody a twit. I learned the words of Waltzing Matilda and what to do with the rocks in my head. I learned that I can't catch diabetes from a friend. I learned about the legend of Welsh Prince Madog.
As a teen, I learned more about Wales, its legends, and what the Welsh language looks like. I learned that guys name their guy-parts. I learned that the slender beauty ideal was 5'6" and size 6 (as opposed to size 0). And I learned that, yes, you can get tired of puns.
As an adult, I've learned even more. I've gotten glimpses into others' lives, imaginary and somehow truer than fiction. I've learned what it's like to live on an Alaskan crab boat, or in a 1960s Malaysian town, or in early Britain, or in a rich girl's snowboarding shoes. I've learned about fairy tales I never read as a child.
(And here, in case you're interested, is a list of the books I made reference to: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Twits by Roald Dahl; an unknown book about Waltzing Matilda which I can't track down; What to Do with the Rocks in Your Head by Michael Scheier; You Can't Catch Diabetes from a Friend by Lynne Kipnis; A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle; Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence; Forever by Judy Blume; the Sweet Valley High books by Francine Pascal; the Xanth books by Piers Anthony; Lucy the Giant by Sherri Smith; Town Boy by Lat; The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer and Warriors of Camlann by N.M. Browne; Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley; and Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale.
What have you learned from children's books?