Kids Books Are Not Just For Kids Anymore

by | Jun 2, 2011 | Books | 70 comments

Hansel und Gretel

One of the interesting aspects of watching my pal/novel Jacob Wonderbar enter the world has been the reaction of the people who reside outside of the book blogosphere.

I’ve been living/virtual-breathing in the book world for so long I forget there are adults out there who don’t make a habit of reading children’s books. Most book-related people I know, even those who work on the adult side, dabble with the occasional children’s book.

But outside of the book world? Not so!

Some adults, I suspect, don’t feel as if they’re, like, allowed to read children’s books.

Now, yes, I realize that when applied to my particular situation, such mundane affairs as exploding galaxies, space buccaneers, and planets full of substitute teachers are not for everyone. Heck, I recently found out some people don’t even eat corndogs. Not even the veggie kind!! (I KNOW. I was as floored as you are).

But hey, adults out there! If you’re not reading children’s books these days you are missing out. These books are for you too.

A Golden Age of Children’s Literature

Leaving aside my own work, which I may have a passing bias about, as my former colleague agent Sarah LaPolla recently posted, few genres have experienced as much growth and innovation as young adult literature in the last thirty-plus years. If you haven’t read a children’s novel since, well, you were a child, you have missed one of the great renaissances in modern books.

To be sure, great books for children go back a long time, and there have been beloved classics stretching back for the last few hundred years. But what has changed is that books for children are delving deep into life as it is actually lived by children, and especially teens. They’re stepping up the adventure and inventing worlds as rich and textured as anything written for adults.

The bar has been raised.

And they’re attracting a lot of adult readers in the process. The genre is hot. But even still I’m surprised by the number of holdouts.

The Books

Sure, you’ve probably heard of the incredibleness that is Harry Potter. (Though I continue to be amazed/scandalized at the number of people who haven’t read it.) It’s a good bet you’ve heard of Twilight, and maybe you’re even familiar with The Hunger Games.

These are just the tip of the iceberg, my friends.

What’s incredible about the new children’s books is that they pack so much meaning into a genre that requires a level of pacing and plotting that will still keep a child or teen’s attention. And these talented writers pull it off in incredible fashion. They’re among the very best books being written today, by some of the world’s most talented authors.

There are books capturing the beautiful and painful reality of childhood in a way that’s rarely been done before. Books like Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron and Looking for Alaska by John Green and Crank by Ellen Hopkins and The 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard, and many many more.

There are books that are taking adventure and fascinating worlds to uncharted heights, such as Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, the Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, and many many more.

I’m leaving so so so many wonderful ones out, more than anyone can count, and I hope people will fill in the gaps with their favorites in the comments section.

Suffice to say: there are some incredible children’s books out there.

Read Them!

Yes, let’s get this out of the way: you’re not the target audience of these books. Yes, they are primarily for kids. But you know what? That’s a good thing! Because reading through the eyes of a child takes you back to childhood in a really wonderful way. It makes you remember, it makes you think, and it makes you look at adult life again through an exhilarating new prism.

These aren’t your grandparent’s children’s books. Heck, they’re not even your children’s books. They’re a breed apart and you’d be hard pressed to read a popular book geared toward 8-year-olds and up that you wouldn’t be entertained and enchanted by.

Children’s books aren’t just for children anymore. Please spread the word.

(And if you’re looking for a place to start, might I suggest Mr. Wonderbar and his cosmic adventure?)

Available at:
Amazon (hardcover)!
Amazon (Kindle)!
Barnes & Noble (hardcover)!
Barnes & Noble (Nook)!


  1. Domino

    Here, here.

    Perhaps, dare I hope, that the e-readers will allow adults to read children's book without being embarrassed?

  2. Mr. D

    To each their own, I say, because I didn't even read kids' books when I was a kid. Although I am encouraging my own kids to read them. (With only minimal success, I must confess.) Good luck to you and everyone else though.

  3. Ishta Mercurio

    I think the "children's" label brings a stigma with it; people are embarrassed to be found reading something that is labeled as being for kids, as if they should have outgrown it by now. But that is so, so backward.

    I think a better way of thinking about it is that these are great books, that are also appropriate for kids.

    Spreading the word!

  4. mmshaunakelley

    Its interesting– my first novel is technically YA Fiction, but I have MANY more adult readers than I do young adults. I personally embrace being seen with a copy of Harry Potter in my briefcase when I am out among the world for my day job. Perhaps your book will have to join it!

  5. Barbara Watson

    Great post! Almost everything I read is kid lit (but then again I also write it). You're spot on – most people outside bookdom don't realize the wonder contained in new children's books.

  6. Matthew MacNish

    I vividly remember seeing on CNN years ago a story about lines outside of B&N for HP Chamber of Secrets. I went and bought one for my daughter because of the hype.

    Then I never even considered cracking it open myself. Years later I realized what a narrow view that was, read all of them voraciously, and have loved books about young people ever since.

    Here are three books you didn't mention that your readers should look into:

    Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
    The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith
    Stick by Andrew Smith

    Andrew even calls Stick MG, or says that it could be considered MG because of the age of the character. I'm no marketing expert, but I can tell you these are three of the best books I've read in years, and if you like literature for and about young characters, you will NOT be disappointed!

  7. Carrie

    I never quit reading YA and middle grade. Even when as a teenager some of my friends teased me for my devotion to the teen section while they were busy reading War and Peace or something.
    I can't imagine people not eating corndogs. Corndogs are the best.

  8. leadlinedalias

    I don't think it's embarrassment. Perhaps in some cases, but I don't personally know anyone who would be embarrassed to be seen reading a kid's book.

    It's a matter of taste. I don't eat corndogs, because I don't like them. I don't read much youth fiction because it doesn't appeal to me as an adult.

    That said, I haven't read the Harry Potter's and 'Gone' by Michael Grant is excellent.

  9. Sierra McConnell

    I always feel weird in the YA section of the store. Like a pervert stalking a high school or something…

    And who doesn't eat corndogs? They're portable food! Buy one at Wal-Mart and eat it on the way to BN! It keeps you warm in the cold! It's like…magic food or something!

  10. NikkiF

    I used to teach English to 9-13 year old kids and one of the great pleasures was that reading 'children's books' was justified by my job. For fantasy, I/we really enjoyed the Garth Nix 'Abhorsen' trilogy, the Philip Pullman 'His Dark Materials' trilogy and Malorie Blackman's 'Noughts and Crosses' books. So much more good YA stuff out now than when I was that age!

  11. Cathy Yardley

    I like to look at Pixar, which obviously makes "children's" movies, but really don't. And they've developed a huge following, including adults without children. People are recognizing fantastic stories. That said, yeah, ereaders may make that less "embarrassing."

  12. Tiana Smith

    C.S. Lewis said: "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest." As someone who primarily reads MG, I've found people look at me askance whenever I pull the latest "children's book" out of my bag. I don't care though. I'd rather enjoy reading my "lower form of literature" than try to force down the latest "serious" book that really isn't my fancy. (That makes me feel like I'm in school again, and I like to read for enjoyment now that I actually have a choice).

  13. Cookie

    One of my favorite books of all time is a children's novel.

    But like Sierra, I do feel kinda weird when I go to the YA section. Although, I could pass for a teenager, so I don't know why I feel so weird.

  14. Rahma Krambo

    I didn't read 'A Wrinkle in Time' or 'Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe' until I was an adult, homeschooling my kids. It opened my eyes to the wonderful potential for elements in storytelling not possible with adult fiction.

    I have written a middle grade fiction book with the idea of reaching the forgotten child-in-the-adult. It can be read on all levels, ages 9 and up.

    Just released as an e-book, forgive me if I make a 'shameless promo' here for GUARDIAN CATS AND THE LOST BOOKS OF ALEXANDRIA

    Thanks, I've been following your blog for a long time. Congratulations on your new book Nathan. I'll read it before sending it off to my granddaughter.

  15. Candace Rose

    This post instantly brought to mind Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series. I could read those books all day every day and never get bored.
    I actually know many many adults under 30 who read childrens books more than they read books meant for adults. Hopefully that trend is catching.

  16. Joanne Sher

    LOVE reading children's books. Prolly helps that I have children – but I'd do it anyway. There are some CLEVER writers out there!

    I WILL pick up Jacob. TRULY – just not today.

  17. Bryan Russell (Ink)

    Well, my daughter is happily awaiting Jacob II… as am I, of course.

  18. Rick Daley

    I read JACOB WONDERBAR on an airplane, and I was not embarrassed to do it! My son is reading it now, but since I paid for it I got first dibs.

    A good children's book has a story that adults can still relate to. After all, we were kids once, too. So long as the story is not too mired in present trends that it flies under adult radar / over adult heads it can be wide-reaching in its audience.

    WORD VERIFICATION: lunklize. To assimilate to specific regions of the moon, i.e. lunar localization.

  19. Laurel

    You're preaching to the choir, here. I have always loved children's books. I read them because I LIKE them, not as some sort of writerly research.

    The best thing about younger literature is the unvarnished perspective. Kids know that there really is good and evil, that sometimes you have to get lucky to win one, and you get by with a little help from your friends. The rules and the grown ups aren't always fair.The PoV of a young person presents ideas and conflict in a clear light. The MC usually knows what he should do, even if it's the hardest choice, and sets about overcoming the obstacles to doing it.

    The older we get, in life and fiction, the grayer things become. Our moral compass gets a little warped, our bad decisions easier to justify, our nemeses less evil and more misunderstood. The conflict becomes more about figuring out what really is right and wrong and less about fighting what is wrong.

    In fiction, I like the surety of knowing which is which. Who to pull for. The strong characters who sally forth because it's the right thing to do, even when they think they can't win.

  20. JEK

    One of my favorite YA series is The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel another wonderfully magical series that's great for all ages, the young and young at heart!

  21. Anonymous

    One of my all time favorite books is "Oh The Places You'll Go," which was released, I think, about 25 years ago.

    And, BTW, I'm a Grandpa…we had good kids books too back in the day. (Beatrix Potter?) It's not something new. "Winnie the Pooh," is another. I think some books crossover better than others. Why? I don't know. But they do.

  22. D.G. Hudson

    Some of the best kids' books I've read were ones discovered at the library when my kids were younger.

    The Church Mice In Action, and The Church Mice Adrift by Graham Oakley (a hilarious tale of a Vegetarian cat and the church mice who manipulate him to their own advantage). We also read Robert Munsch (the series) and all the Beatrix Potter stories.

    The material available has increased in quality and quantity partly due to a realization that some of the old books were hopelessly outdated, and not applicable in today's hi-tech environment.

    Bravo to those who write MG and childrens' books, as it encourages the use of imagination (sometimes squashed in the education process).

    I confess that once my kids were older, I didn't look for kid lit anymore. I've seen some of the HP movies, haven't read any of the books. I'm afraid my TBR books are more interesting to me, and my focus is on adult writing (sci-fi, mystery, & womens lit).

    If better books are being written for kids, and I agree with this statement, does that mean the kids reading these books will grow up with less angst? I doubt it, but they may have grandiose dreams and someday lead us to the Outer Limits of the universe. Like Jacob Wonderbar. I'd like that.

  23. Ranae Rose

    I never stopped reading YA books. Love them!

  24. Girl Friday

    Fantastic post, hurray for kidlit! I think the huge popularity of kids' films that adults also loved (Shrek, Toy Story, Ice Age etc etc) have helped reduce the stigma for adults who enjoy children's books (as has Harry Potter, of course) and will continue to do so.

  25. Dawn Simon

    It was a true event in our house when each of the last few books in the Harry Potter series came out. By then, we'd caught on to what was so amazing about them and caught up with the earlier books. My kids and I would order our books way ahead of time and wait with the rest of the world–or what felt like the rest of the world.

    I read the first books with my daughter, but she let me know I was holding her back since life wouldn't allow me to read all day. That's when we started the bookmark method. She would leave a bookmark where she stopped, and once it was after her bedtime, I could read up to the bookmark–not one page beyond! This made for some very late nights since she was a fast little reader. Then her younger brother discovered Harry Potter, and we had to buy two books with each new release since we were all dying to know what would happen next! My husband, on the other hand: he waits until just before each movie, and then he reads the corresponding book.

    THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak is incredible. I highly recommend it.

  26. *WinterOne

    Well said!!

    I had a strange evolution of reading as a child. I was reading Michael Crichton and John Grisham by age 11 and then between the ages of 14 and 16, was absolutely in LOVE with the Hardy Boys. I thank the latter, as well as the culture-shattering Harry Potter series, as the beginning of my journey into a life-long affair with mid-grade and YA fiction. (I am currently writing the former.)

  27. Nicole

    Count me among those who've "never stopped reading kid books!" I love a good MG story – Garth Nix's Seventh Tower series and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson are some of my favorites. And, of course, classics like "A Wrinkle in Time" and Sherwood Smith's "Wren to the Rescue."

  28. Ishta Mercurio

    Re: Carrie's comment about teenaged friends reading War and Peace: yes! I think there can be ideas that teenagers have about what adults are supposed to be, and then that bleeds over into how we behave in adulthood.

    I know a lot of people who don't go into the teen or MG section because they feel "beyond that stage," but they've never read the books, so how do they know? To me, a good story is a good story, whether it's a picture book or a children's novel or a novel from the adult section. But, to each their own. Some people read MG or YA and feel put off by its general straightforward nature.

  29. tamarapaulin

    If I were in charge of the Department of Marketing YA to Adults, I'd want to highlight the fact kids' books are SHORTER.

    Because they have less words, they are all plot, all excitement, and less padding of descriptions and infodumps and philosophical meanderings. And yet, if read quickly and you like longer books, you can have it all! You can read an entire series of books!

  30. Ella Schwartz

    Well said!!

    Yes, I loved Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc… but there are some beautiful well written books out there that have really moved me. How about the Book Thief by Markus Zusak? That book was so beautifully written. I tear up just thinking about it. Or what about fun middle grade reads like Mysterious Benedict Society or Percy Jackson?

  31. CMSmith

    You just sold a Kindle edition. Good points. I've read all of your first three mentions.

  32. Ulysses

    Now THIS is something that I find exciting, and yet I also find is rarely discussed.

    I REALLY wish I had access to some numbers to back up my argument (or dispute it… either way is good). To me it seems not long ago that everyone was lamenting the modern state of literacy. Children weren't reading. They were watching television or playing video games. But that seemed to change with the advent of Harry Potter.

    Children were suddenly READING. I remember the news stories that covered Potter mania when the first books were still coming out. Lineups to buy! Kids dressing up! In a world that seemed (and still seems) to be obsessed with cyber-media, children were sitting down and reading books. And they are continuing to read, as the success of middle grade and YA are showing.

    The children who began reading with the Philosopher's (Sorcerer's) Stone, are growing up. Their tastes are changing, but they are still reading, and this habit is boosting sales in books aimed at older readers. With luck, their fondness for reading will continue into adulthood.

    Of course, to foster this kind of renaissance of literacy (if it's not a figment of my imagination), we have to give them good books. We have to give them work that makes them want to read more, that fosters their enthusiasm.

    But then, that is and always has been the challenge.

  33. Mira

    Great post, Nathan.

    I completely agree! I love kid's books. They are fast paced, often funny, imaginative and fun.

    They are also frequently inspiring. There's sort of an unwritten rule in kid's books that there is positive character development, a good message and things end on an upward note.

    I appreciate that alot, I really like books that have a wholesome and inspiring message.

    I also appreciate that kid's books are often more innocent. You don't find alot of horrific torture scenes in them. But you seem to find them ALL THE TIME in adult literature. I love fantasy, but I almost exclusively read YA and MG fanatsy now, because adult fantasy tends to be violent and dark.

    Although – there has been a trend lately toward darker and darker children's literature, and personally, I wish people would rethink that. I don't think it's good for kids to have such disturbing images in their books. Just my opinion, but I remember how Captain Hook kept me sleepless for weeks. Kids are vulnerable.

    Good topic, thanks, Nathan.

  34. Carolyn

    Oh man! Especially in certain circumstances, corn dogs can be MAGIC.

    Once upon a time, here in the South, in the summer, when it was about four million degrees and two thousand percent humidity, my friend Melissa and I had a work day that started before dawn and involved transporting horses to and fro various barns. It was twelve hours of sweat and dust and red clay and no lunch and mud and filth and horse hair and fatigue and driving in a truck with no AC and eventually we both pretty much wanted to curl up into a ball on the side of the road and die.

    And then we came to a gas station in the middle of nowhere, walked inside, into the blessed deep freeze of the AC, and smelled the rich, deep, satisfying aroma that only comes from corn dogs under a heat lamp at a gas station in the middle of nowhere in the Deep South on the hottest, steamiest day of the year.

    We ate two apiece, and we didn't hold back at the ketchup and mustard.

    Best corn dogs of my life.

  35. Ruth Donnelly

    My son is taking a social science elective next semester called The Golden Age of Children's Literature. My first reaction was, "But isn't THIS the golden age of children's literature?" (Well, to be honest, my very first reaction was, "Can I audit the class?") But I agree, the quality and variety of kidlit available now is astonishing!

  36. Sarah

    I've always loved MG and YA fiction. My sister will read nothing else. My son is 10 now, and starting to read some of my favorites. It's cool, because we can discover books together now!

    Some of my favorites:
    Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
    The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

    My son loved The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series (he refuses to see the movie, because he's "sure they've ruined it"), Eragon, and Erin Hunter's Warriors series.

    He's reading the Harry Potter series now, then plans to read Redwall.

  37. twittertales

    Oh, *swoon*, the "Larklight" trilogy (each book stand alone) by Philip Reeve – and the illustrations are worth hanging on your wall. And the "Samurai Kids" series by Sandy Fussell. WOW. THAT is how it is DONE.

    Both, incidentally, have male main characters.

    Louise Curtis

  38. Anonymous

    Excuuuuuse me.

    WHEN YOU REACH ME should be on your list!

  39. Emily Wenstrom

    It's so true. I was reflecting just a few days ago that a lot of my favorite books, authors I've absolutely fallen in love with, are YA. Ender's Game, Hunger Games, and of course Harry Potter … the list goes on. The adventures in these books are just so epic. A lot of adult literature just doesn't have plot on the same level. Or at least they aren't drawing me in the same, I don't know about anyone else.

  40. MJR

    I agree. I take picture books, middle grade books, and YA out of the library. Really good children's books can be appreciated by kids and adults. I read a novel recently called THE EVOLUTION OF CAPURNIA TATE and really enjoyed it (middle grade, historical) and laughed over THE DIARY OF A WIMPY KID the other day. I do plan to read JACOB WONDERBAR, of course. For some reason, I don't feel like revisiting teenage angst so don't read as much YA.

  41. lhowell

    I love children's books. I think it's wonderful that books can be access through kindle. Whatever keeps children reading. "An Adventure with Joshua and Hoppy Frog" is fun and charming (

  42. David Ferretti lll

    I have coined a genre to cover this phenomenon. I call it the YA of Yesteryear.

  43. Chantelle Smith

    I'd have to make mention of this. Let the Right One In (also titled Let Me In) by John Ajvide Lindqvist is a good one for kids to read. Not that I think the market he aimed for is specifically children's books (the content is a bit darker) but I'm pretty sure there are kids out there who will emphasise with what the lead character suffers through at school. And I recon it'd be any bullied kid's DREAM to have a vampire come deal with those bullies for them. It's kind of like the writer took the idea of a children's story and turned it into something that adults would read.

    With all that said, I've never looked at any genre of book to be exclusive to that specific genre. I write for YA, which means when I go to the library, I'm browsing the YA aisles a whole lot more than the Adult aisles. You have to read what you write, right?

  44. Neil Larkins

    Maybe I'm missing something. Cameron's YA "Pain" book about an 18 year-old doesn't strike me as a "childrens" book. After all, doesn't YA mean Young Adult?

  45. brianw

    I think this has happened with movies too. Most of the 'children's' movies these days, i.e. Shrek, Despicable Me, The Incredibles, and others are a lot of fun even for parents.

    As for books, I'll read anything someone tells me is worth reading, but I tend to enjoy YA more than anything else. For the most part, they're quick, fun reads, but I'm surprised at how deep some of them delve.

    My first novel, Dreamworld, just came out and it is YA Fantasy and I'd say right now my readers are split about half and half between teenagers and adults. I'm not sure which group is enjoying it more. Even my wife's grandpa is reading it, and he's 85. Pretty cool.

  46. Peter Cooper

    ditto Ranger's Apprentice. Really good fun books, even for us 40 somethings.

  47. Nancy Lauzon

    I think the best thing about J.K. Rowling was that she was the first author to make the crossover between children and adult books. In fact, that's why publishers first rejected her. They said that nobody would read a book for adults AND kids. Guess they're sorry now!

    The Chick Dick Blog

  48. J. T. Shea

    Kids' books not just for kids anymore? Amen, Nathan! But were they ever just for kids?

    I think it was C. S. Lewis (it usually is!) who described kids' stories and books as adults' stories and books that migrated from the library to the nursery over time. I second Tiana Smith's Lewis quotation too.

    I am currently reading or rereading the Narnia and Harry Potter series, TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES. I always have a dozen or more books on the go! I greatly enjoyed LEVIATHAN and it's continuation BEHEMOTH and look forward eagerly to the concluding book GOLIATH.

    Exploding galaxies, space buccaneers, planets full of substitute teachers, what's not to love!?Though I haven't got as far as the substitute teachers' planet yet. Because of external distractions, I hasten to add. JACOB WONDERBAR is one of the fastest reads I've ever encountered.

    Yet, amid all that unlikely galactic mayhem the scene where Jacob thinks about his AWOL dad is as touching as any such scene in a more 'realistic' novel. We suspend disbelief for the talking spaceship and burp-smelling planet but we believe in Jacob. Like Alice in Wonderland, Jacob is our I-Guy and guide through extraordinary adventures which his very ordinariness helps make believable.

    I could write an essay on this, and probably will in the Bransforums, though not before next week. Meanwhile, fellow Bransfordians, have you bought JACOB WONDERBAR yet? There are only THREE customer reviews on Amazon! (I bought my copy from The Book Depository.) Nearly a hundred thousand followers or whatever they call them on social networks, and THREE reviews!? Could it be we indeed write too much and read too little, as Nathan wondered yesterday?

  49. Isabella Amaris

    Categories might have been meant for consumer convenience, but they've sure added misleading dimensions to what's intellectual, valuable etc and what isn't. Most of my friends wouldn't think of picking up a book on a childrens lit bookshelf to read for themselves. They think they'll be judged by other adults as being dumb or childish.

    Me, I think a mature person wouldn't care about being judged, would be happy to try out new (and old) things, and give any kind of literature a chance before labelling it as reader-specific or dumbed down.

    I love YA fiction, and hope more adults will realise what treasures are sitting on the YA shelves (and e-shelves:D) right now:)

    Oh, and may adults and kids alike enjoy the Space Kapow, Nathan:) Cheers.

  50. Anonymous

    Well i love childrens books and YA but i am a child(Tween) so…but i hope when i am a adult that i stil enjoy all my books on my current bookshelf

  51. Carol Newman Cronin

    Okay, I have a confession to make.

    I've never eaten a corndog.

    I can't even promise to remedy the situation in the near term.

    I hear your horror and concern for my well-being.

    But: I can share your larger experience about YA/Adult readers. Within our little author-sphere, YA is a fine thing to consume even for adults. Outside that safe wordy world, adults ask me "how are your children's books doing?" (To which I always want to reply, "Read them and find out! They're not just for children!")

    I think part of the problem is the oh-so narrow age restrictions placed on the back of most books these days. When potential readers ask me "What age is this good for?" I reply, "The publisher says 9-12. I say 8-80."

    Thanks for this blog. I will share it with everyone who is trying to channel an inner nine year old. And please add "Oliver's Surprise" and "Cape Cod Surprise" to your list of "good for adults" YA. Meanwhile, I will read Jacob and learn why corndogs are so crucial to my future.

  52. K. C. Blake

    I feel like times have changed somewhat… or maybe it's just me. I used to be embarrassed when reading YA in college, but now I pick up whatever I want at the store and buy it without a tiny ounce of regret. J. K. Rowling did such a wonderful job with the Harry Potter books that I don't think as many people judge you anymore for reading kid books. My friends don't look at me strange for reading them at least. Sometimes they are reading the same books.

  53. Rebecca Kiel

    We read many kids' books in our house. Some favorites are:

    Toys Go Out – Jenkins
    All the World – Scanlon
    Cowgirl Kate & Cocoa
    Mr. Putter & Tabby – Rylant
    The Relatives Came – Rylant

    It is a joy each time I get to read one of these!

  54. The Red Angel

    Great post Nathan! I love reading kids books because often I find that I notice something in the book (either in the text or the images) that I hadn't noticed when I'd read it as a kid.


  55. Crystal Collier

    Kids books are my bread and butter. I feel sorry for anyone who misses out on them. Oh, and have you checked out the YA section at the bookstore lately? It's as big as the fiction section!

  56. Kathryn Magendie

    Well, I'm going to read your book Nathan! Have my two copies for the grands and one will be read before the giving – she won't mind, she's only 19 months and won't even notice 😀

    Nathan, what do you make of the "Amazon Sunshine Deals" thing – I'm a part of that but admit I don't know diddly what the end result will be and details etc . . . you always have a good take on things – maybe for your next publishing news you'll talk about it?

  57. tamarapaulin

    Wait. There are veggie corn dogs?

    Hey Nathan, I read your interview on It was a really nice read!

  58. Jenny

    I guess it depends on what you classify as children's books. I mean, I think picture books like Cat in the Hat or early chapter readers like the Boxcar Children. Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games…they're more YA in my mind, and I have no qualms about reading such books. Maybe it's because they are a lot closer to adult books that middle grade/independent reader books, but I've never considered them 'kids' books. Then again, I did start reading the encyclopedia in 4th grade…

  59. Sonia

    I never thought the Ranger's Apprentice was a children's book!

  60. Anonymous

    I think adults read YA because they know that the book will not be full of purple prose and make them feel stupid.

    Skim through the bestseller list and tell me how many titles do you think the average high school educated adult would want to read. How many of those books would a male reader want to read?

    The YA tags comes across as saying: "Hey, I'm not a difficult read. Pick me up. I'm not the boring stuff you had to read in high school English class."

  61. Steve C

    My favorite kids books will always be Henry Reed, Encyclopedia Brown, The Enormous Egg, The Mad Scientists' Club, and One Morning in Maine.

    For today's books, Skellig is magical, and Shiloh has a pitch-perfect, natural voice.

    Nick Hornby: "I see now that dismissing YA books because you're not a young adult is a little bit like refusing to watch thrillers on the grounds that you're not a policeman or a dangerous criminal, and as a consequence, I've discovered a previously ignored room at the back of the bookstore that's filled with masterpieces I've never heard of."

  62. Mira

    I love this thread for the recommendations – thanks!

    J.T. – you are absolutely right. I forgot about Amazon reviews. I'm going to review Nathan's book tomorrow, when I'm not so tired. Thanks for the reminder!

  63. Serenissima

    I think adults would love THE BOOK THIEF and OCTAVIAN NOTHING even more than kids do. Grownups who think they won't like YA/MG have probably never tried it. Give them a copy of THE HUNGER GAMES, and chances are you've got a new convert.

  64. Anonymous

    What I love about kids books is they allow us adults to escape the confines of our daily existence and go someplace magical. As a kid who always had a big imagination, going to strange and different worlds was a great part of my childhood.

    Sometimes that magic plays itself out in different ways, like challenges or fears faced and managed in strange/new worlds, opportunities created, hope rising, friendships made, lessons learned and about a thousand other varieties.

    But the really special thing about kids books for me is just that space to experience the feelings kids would feel in any given situation and in a sense, relive my childhood imagination transformed into adult feelings and experiences. It's kind of like blending old with new, new feelings with life experience and delivering a wonderful, rich result for me as a reader.

    I'm having a lot of trouble posting a comment tonight so I'll just post this as anonymous but it's Leila.

  65. Delorfinde

    Oh yay, I don't have to feel guilty about hanging out in the kids' section of the library any more.

    I'm fifteen.


  66. Kjersten

    Such a good post. Well said. Thanks!


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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