I’ve also read Shakespeare, just not lately

One tiny moment of authenticity today. I enjoy reading children’s books. To myself. For  my own pleasure, not to preview them for my kids.

Although I have used that excuse in the past. I also have tucked Harry Potter book jackets into my bag so I could read incognito at Starbucks. I recognize the absurdity of this.

Children’s books, good ones, can be delightful, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t enjoy them just because I am not a child anymore. A good story is a good story, regardless of genre or intended audience.

Amid beachgoers glued to reading group favorites and paperback bestsellers, I read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente. I love this book. It is incredibly charming, witty and poignant. Yet at times I felt unpleasantly conspicuous reading it, as though reading a children’s book casts doubt upon my emotional maturity or basic reading skills. But I read it anyway, alert for snide looks that never actually came my way.

Here is a quote from this lovely book:

“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in a while, you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you’ll never be brave again…all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make [people] paladins once more, bold knights and true.”

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente, A Fiewel and Friends Book

Don’t you love that?

In other news, I saw an actual crab in the ocean today. I did not tell Sarah.

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4 Responses to I’ve also read Shakespeare, just not lately

  1. Tricia Harrity says:

    Some of my favorite books are “for children”. Have you read “Julie of the Wolves” by Jean Craighead George? Stunning

  2. Patty Volpacchio says:

    Perfect! You are doing a wonderful job “scrubbing it up and getting the works going”! Brava!!
    BTW, I love children’s books as well… as you say, a good story is a good story. Don’t step on any crabs!

  3. Molly says:

    I share this literary leaning with you, and have heard repeatedly that it is currently quite trendy for grownup people to spend their reading hours immersed in YA fiction rather than “adult” books. (And I think that at 247 pages, the book you’re reading isn’t exactly what most people would think of as a “children’s” book but would probably qualify as a relatively wholesome variety of Young Adult reading. It’s not like you’re obsessed with Curious George.)

    Yes, I will admit that the reason I started dwelling in YA was roughly to “preview” books for my 12 year old daughter, who loves to read, and I’ve kind of just stayed there. Less to censor or filter what is offered to her; more to help sort through the endless choices to find the interesting and smart books that I think will hold her attention, regardless of the subject matter. And on the more difficult ones, yes, I like to have read them so we can talk about things together. (Hunger Games, anyone? Chock full of great discussion starters about our world.) But there are a number of YA books that I’ve grown obsessed with that Aurora has no interest in (James Patterson Angel Experiment books – so dumb, yet strangely addictive to me). Or ones that I know are too bleak (Maze Runner), or the main character is too idiotic (Twilight), for me to suggest to her. Doesn’t keep me from reading them. I do have a lot more time in the car than my kids – and I tend to use the library to check out the book and the book on CD concurrently so I can “read” while I’m driving.

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