Why You’re Never Too Old to Read Children’s Books

Roald Dahl Day 2013I finished reading Matilda this week. It was my first Roald Dahl book. Ever. Shocking, right? You’ll have to blame my parents. Although I was excited about buying the Roald Dahl Collection – I had been coveting it for over a year – I was worried, too. What if I was simply too old to enjoy them? What if I wasn’t able to appreciate the stories as much as I would if I were a child?  But I adored it. I loved the tone of the story, the wit and Matilda’s intelligence and sincerity. As today is Roald Dahl Day, I thought it was apt to talk about why you’re probably never too old to read children’s books.

Why You're Never Too Old to Read Children's Books

You may miss out on something brilliant.
And you don’t want that to happen now, do you? I know that it’s impossible, unfortunately, to read absolutely every book in the world, but as Henry David Thoreau says, read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. Don’t worry if one of them just happens to be a children’s book. Don’t miss out.

They’re not as light as you think.
You often see articles pop up, talking about how dark and gloomy young adult fiction is, or how they’re too ‘adult’ for children, or how adults should read adult books, but have they even read a children’s book? Miss Trunchbull is even more terrifying in the book than in the movie adaptation (she used to hold young Miss Honey’s head under bath water, for a start!). Yes, dystopian societies are dark, but so is a story about a woman who locks children in small spaces peppered with broken glass. Eight Keys and Anthem for Jackson Dawes are both terribly sad, but tell stories that need to be told. Sadly, children sometimes do go through pretty tragic circumstances and this needs to be acknowledged in literature.

Why You're Never Too Old to Read Children's Books

You may interpret books you read as a child differently – and that’s a good thing.
I started to re-read Girls at St Clare’s a few years ago and I listened to the Malory Towers audiobook only last year. It was a different experience, but a no less enjoyable one. I looked at them in a different way than I did when I was six years old. I noticed the focus on being intelligent, sporty and plain-looking whereas now, you wouldn’t be snubbed by other pupils for not bothering to do your schoolwork! Like when re-reading any other book, you’ll notice things you hadn’t noticed before. I know I probably wouldn’t have understood the literary references in Constable & Toop if I had read it as a child.

You may ENJOY them!
It really is that simple. I do not know anyone who enjoys Harry Potter less than they did ten years ago. I read Anne of Green Gables last year and it ended up becoming one of my favourite novels. I dare you all not to be enchanted by young Anne Shirley! Children’s books are wonderful, often with as well-developed characters and well-written storylines as adult fiction, and I don’t think we read enough of them. I love the adventure and the wit and the sort of terrors that only young children seem to be able to conjure up.

Why You're Never Too Old to Read Children's Books

It’s fun to be nostalgic.
Milly-Molly-Mandy was one of my favourite books as a young child and I cannot wait to pick it up and enjoy it all over again. I really wanted to live in an attic and be able to purchase a chick for a penny. Judging by the amount of 90s Tumblrs I’ve seen, people love nostalgia. They love to talk about the TV shows they grew up with, the games they used to play, the food they used to eat – so why not dust off the children’s books you grew up with and experience them all over again? It is fun to re-read an old favourite and remember what you were doing the first time you read the book, what made you pick it up in the bookstore, or which friends you shared it with. I remember my Dad not believing that I read The Adventures of Mr. Pink-Whistle in one sitting.

It’s a luxury to read a book in a day.
It’s a terrible experience (all right, I’m exaggerating) to be torn from a story you’re enjoying, but you often can read a children’s book in one sitting. It may be your only chance to become fully absorbed in a story, from start to finish, and not have to stop to go to work, or write an essay, or do the laundry.

Why You're Never Too Old to Read Children's Books
Why You're Never Too Old to Read Children's Books

Because they often have stunning illustrations.
All right, maybe it’s just me, but I absolutely love it when books have illustrations, and a lot of young children’s books do. Matilda, A Monster Calls, Milly-Molly-Mandy, A Series of Unfortunate Events… and thousands more were all made even better by their illustrators. And what adult cannot appreciate Oliver Jeffers?

It’s never too late to catch up!
I thought I was quite a bookish child until I started book blogging and realised that I hadn’t read enough. I’d not read books like The Little Prince or The Giver (and as I said, Matilda) as a child, so I thought I had better catch up. Go on, you can do it!

Why You're Never Too Old to Read Children's Books

You’re never too old to read any book.
From picture books to middle grade to young adult to adult and beyond. I like to think I’ll give anything a shot, but if you decide a book is probably not for you, don’t let it be purely because of the age it was intended for. Age does not to define who you are and there’s no right way to be an adult. Read children’s books, eat ice lollies, play in the sand.

Why You're Never Too Old to Read Children's BooksWhy You're Never Too Old to Read Children's Books

I’m in my early 20s and so I suppose that these reasons may change a little as I grow older, but I hope I can continue to seek enjoyment from children’s literature. I chose not to include practical reasons, such as ‘read them because you’re a librarian/parent/teacher/children’s publisher’ or ‘you ought to know what your children are reading’, because I wanted these to be personal. And you don’t have to justify the fact that you enjoy children’s stories.

Right, I’m off to read the rest of my Roald Dahl box set…

Why do you enjoy children’s books?

89 thoughts on “Why You’re Never Too Old to Read Children’s Books

  1. Love reading children’s books!

    i had no idea it was roald dahl day, but i am reading the BFG at the moment. Love it so far!

  2. I’m so glad you’ve started Dahl! The BFG is my absolute favourite so I hope you like it.

    I think there is a bit more freedom in children’s books, you can interpret them and read between the lines as well as taking them on face value. There seem to be NO limits – anything can go in the realm of children’s lit! I’m just about to start an MA in children’s literature and I’m so excited to reread the greats that I loved and explore new books.

  3. I love Roald Dahl and I made my brother read it, although he is 15 right now. Roald Dahl always made me believe in magic. And you are so right about this. You should read Roald Dahl’s autobiography. Its love.

  4. After reading your post, I feel like re-reading my old books. :)

  5. Really? Matilda was your first Roald Dahl book? Oh man. There’s so much magic in your future if you do decide to read his other books! I’ve absolutely LOVED picking up children’s books again to read with my boys (Especially Roald Dahl!). For all the same reasons that you’ve listed above. They’re brilliant and fun and interesting and have gorgeous illustrations. My boys weren’t at all interested in me reading them MY favourite book as a child (Charlotte’s Web) so I just sat down and re-read it for myself recently and it was brilliant.

  6. Anne of Green Gables is my favorite!

  7. Hey I have enjoyed your blog and have nominated you for liebster award http://talkabtbooks.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/liebster-awards-nominations-friday-finds/.. Hope you enjoy it

  8. I loved Matilda, it’s a great story and I particularly liked the movie too! I also read The Witches, another favourite Roald Dahl book. I will be exploring more of his books!

    • It’s a wonderful movie! I also watched The Witches, which I loved and I have memories of one of my best friends at the time telling me how creepy it was. I’m sure I’ll enjoy that one too.

  9. I quite agree that Miss Trunchbull is terrifying, but she is wonderfully terrifying. She appears as a comedy horror character in a the safe environment that is Matilda. We all know that you can’t really hurl a child across a football pitch and we know that it is Roald Dahl telling one of his tales. We hear his voice and know where he’s coming from.

    You can’t compare Matilda to the relentlessly grim, sexually explicit, morally corrupt stories that are published as young adult books, books that, as they are published by children’s book publishers, are eligible for and do win prestigious children’s book prizes.

  10. What a wonderful post – all those wonderful books. The best thing for me about having children was revisiting the old favourites and finding new favourites during bedtime story time. Two children and often two different stories. The BFG is one of my favourite Roald Dahl books and that was published well after I was a child. The illustrations often add a lovely dimension to children’s books too.

  11. I love children’s literature so much. (Granted, which kind of literature don’t I like?) It’s very nostalgic, but the lessons that they teach are so important. I think an adult or young adult could forget about these lessons entirely. It’s really important to keep this connection to our childhood. I haven’t read any Dahl yet, but I intend to.

  12. WOW, can’t believe that you have never read Dahl before! My favorite so far has been The BFG. But I haven’t read that since I was a kid, so sometime I want to read that again. I remember reading Matilda around 8 years old. My teacher used my copy as her master copy to teacher the class with (our school was poor, and she asked if anyone owned it…). We read his book ‘The Witches’ that same year… scared me so much.

    I like reading kids books as an adult because I never got to read them as a kid! There’s so many out there that I never picked up at the time because they looked uninteresting. But now I’m curious as to what all that fuss was about. Then i want to read books that movies are based on, like Indian in the Cupboard, Harriet the Spy (read that a couple yrs ago), and more. And of course, like with The BFG, I loved it as a kid, but that’s when I was a kid. I want to read that sucker again. I don’t remember a whole lot from so many of these books anymore.Like Matilda, for example, I remember the movie a lot better than I do the book. Some books I remember the basic plot and nothing else and it’s a shame. So I want to go back and read them.

    Long comment is long. Sorry about that!

    And I hope you enjoy the rest of your Dahl books!

    • Do not be sorry at all! And I completely agree. I’ve missed out on so many children’s books. Why shouldn’t I read them now?! Oh and definitely take the time to re-read your old favourites :)

  13. What wonderful points you make. It’s even better when you have children that you can read these lovely books to.

  14. Stacey. I am in love with this post <3.
    Just thought I should let you know.

    I love reading the picture books at work when I have a spare few moments – like when I'm processing new books! I enjoy the stories, and feeling like a child again – and I like reading them out loud as if reading to a child too, as I feel that's the best way to read them!

    I also think there's so much awesome MG out there. Some, not so good stuff like I wouldn't go back to any Daisy Meadows books, but there are just some great books out there and you're right, it shouldn't matter how old we are, we should still be able to just enjoy them!

    So yes, this post = <3!

    P.S. The BFG was my favourite Roald Dahl ;)

    • Thanks so much Faye!

      Oh yes, there’s definitely some books I read as a child that I wouldn’t enjoy at all now, but there’s still so much that I’d love.

      (The BFG is high up on my list!).

  15. I’m almost 25 and I got my first Roald Dahl book ever today! I’m hoping to spend the rest of the night reading The Witches. This is a great post, I love reading children’s lit!

  16. I loved Dahl growing up and have enjoyed re-reading some of my favorites. I loved The Witches and BFG and I look forward to hearing what you think of them. Enjoy!

  17. Love this post! As a child I read The Secret Garden and A Little Princess (both by Frances Hodgson Burnett) literally dozens of times. They were a huge part of why I fell in love with books, and to this day they remain two of my all-time favorites.
    Unfortunately, I haven’t read anything by Roald Dahl other than Matilda (which I adored) but I will definitely put all of his books on my to-be-read list.

  18. There are so many things to enjoy when reading og rereading children’s books, and are there anything better, than diving straight back into one of those wonderful places you read about, when you were growing up? I have never read anything by Roald Dahl either, and have had the same worries that you describe. I think perhaps now I’m sure it isn’t too late to enjoy his stories, and I think I will buy Mathilda, of which I have heard so many great things (I’m in my 20s as well :) )

  19. I’m in my early 20s and I absolutely concur! University life is pretty frantic for me and sometimes all I want to do is curl up with a light, comforting read before I lapse into unconsciousness. So many beautiful old favourites to revisit in my bookshelf.

  20. […] Children’s books are amazing. They should definitely be enjoyed no matter how old you are. If you disagree, you should definitely check out Stacey’s post on why you’re never too old to read children’s books here. […]

  21. I absolutely agree. I think the shelf a book occupies in a bookshop should be something you completely ignore – who cares if it’s in the children’s section? Seeing your picture of The Magic Sweetshop made me really nostalgic, I used to have that edition. I hope you’ll be reading more Roald Dahl? Go for The Twits next, a really funny read at any age!

    • Oh gosh, I’ve flicked through The Magic Sweetshop so many times. I used to wish for a shop just like that. I DEFINITELY will be reading more Dahl. I hope to read three and then post my thoughts each time.

  22. I love them too….if they have illustrations, its all the more better! :)
    Happy reading!

  23. So true! I’m 20 and still reading children’s and YA books (I am in a fab book club called Grown Ups Read YA). And the Milly-Molly-Mandy books were wonderful…nostalgia! You should definitely read Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes – and enjoy the rest of the boxset! :D

  24. […] Why You’re Never Too Old to Read Children’s Books. […]

  25. アンディー リー

    this is so true! can’t agree more :D

  26. I would like to add to this the Astrid Lindgren books. Those are the books that helped me grow up. Not to mention Tove Jansson. The cartoons about the moomins really don’t do the depth of the books justice, you need to read them to see for yourself :)

  27. Someone ( I can’t remember who) said that all the great children’s books can be read in two ways, one by children, and the other by adults. This is true. The simplicity of the tale does not deter the depth of the message. The traditional storytellers, fable tellers, and epic singers all knew this. Children absorb the story on the level they are able to understand. When we go back and read children’s books, we relearn what these stories taught us growing up. Whether it’s the “old classics” or some of the newer works by J.K.Rowling, Libba Bray, or Rebecca Stead, we can always learn and enjoy.

  28. What a great theme for a blog!

    Having a toddler has been a great excuse for me to re-visit some books for the very young, I still love Peace At Last! There are also some awesome illustrations in children’s books that it would be a shame to miss out on just because they are supposed to be for kids, I love the art of Marc Boutavant, it makes the book For Just One Day extra special.

    Needless to say my copies of the Winnie the Pooh stories and Narnia books will not be getting dusty ’til my boy is old enough to appreciate them, they still get a lot of love from me now!

  29. I haven’t read Matilda yet either, but I plan to! You ARE never too old to read children’s books. I just reread the 1st a Series of Unfortunate Events and I found some of it more clever than I had first realized and the nostalgia was fun! :)

  30. I totally agree. I’ve just finished John Boyne’s ‘Stay where you and then leave’. Excellent. SD

  31. […] Why you are never too old to read children books […]

  32. Yep!
    You’re totally right!
    One of my favourite books of all time is ‘Peter Pan’.
    The story takes you on a magical journey,yet is underlaid by a powerful and poignant message.
    I’m also fond of fairy tales.They are a joy to read and,they too are filled with deep moral lessons.I also opine that their ‘timelessness’ renders them special: Aesop’s fables,and the fairy tales of the Grimm brothers,Hans Andersen,and Perrault are all more than 200 years old,yet who has never heard of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’,’The Three Little Pigs’ or ‘Snow White’?

    All in all, I’ve liked the post very much.I think I’ll buy Mathilda the next time I go to a library.(I was on the verge of buying it but ultimately chose another book!).Of course,I’ll buy Dahl’s other books,too: he’s very versatile and I wonder how he managed to excel in both ‘fields’-the ‘adult genre’ and the ‘children genre’.

    Anyway,I’m talking too much!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! ;)

  33. Matilda and The Twits are my favourite Roald Dahl books. I adore children’s books and I hope that never changes.

  34. […] Paula’s Bookish Highlights post and inspired by Why You’re Never Too Old to Read Children’s Books i went on to read Jute’s Charmed Life: Chameleon’s Cloak after Bill Harris‘ […]

  35. i have watched maltilda million times, only this year decided to read it, well i never imagined that I’d enjoy it that much! i don’t know if it’s because Matilda was one of my childhood memories or the book was really good, i was reading the book with such an excitement and promised myself to read the rest of Roald Dahl’s books and to read it to my children in the future too :)

  36. really loved this post and shared the link on my blog :)

  37. […] section, and now as a mother, I finally feel like it’s cool again to be in this section and you are truly never too old to read a children’s book. The books I check out from this section are mostly for me, not Z. Z is just my liaison to this […]

  38. […] wrote a post for Roald Dahl Day last month on Why You’re Never Too Old to Read Children’s Books. I revealed that I had just finished reading Matilda and that it was my first Dahl book ever. (I […]

  39. I love reading Tove Jansson’s Moomin books. I get them out every now and then because they’re so full of wisdom and they remind me of what’s important.

  40. Thank you for this beautiful post. Following your link I read “Adults Should Read Adult Books” by Joel Stein and came to the instant conclusion that it must be a joke, only to realise that he actually seemed serious. It’s shocking that some people can be so close-minded and ignorant on this subject. Stein is missing out, that’s for sure and I feel sorry for him if he really believes those things.

  41. I loved Matilda so much but I need my daughter after her! I don’t think that you will change with age. I am 40 and I love children’s books. I recommend where the Red Fern Grows and chasing Redbird to my favorites.

  42. I like this post and I do agree that you are never too old to read children’s books. I keep reading these from time to time, Infact I’ve finished reading ‘Heidi’ yesterday and now I am reading ‘The Secret Garden’. My favourite is ‘Anne of Green Gables’ , It was suggested to me by my sister and now I recommend it to everyone.

  43. And I thought I’m the only weird one who enjoy reading children’s book..I still remember the first time I was introduce to Roald Dahl’s books that was way back in college and I never get tired of them because his story is so entertaining and it’s a tongue twister (I love to read aloud. Don’t ask me why but I love it..hehe). What I should do next is to find Roald Dahl’s box set in my neighbourhood bookstore! :)

  44. I used to be terribly annoyed as a child, when my parents read my books. Now I know why, re-reading children’s literature as an adult is a different experience altogether. Quite recently, I read all my Enid Blyton’s again and although my starry-eyed opinion of them changed, I enjoyed reading between the lines and different interpretations.

  45. […] And also just more middle grade in general (especially contemporary and mystery) Of course, there’s a ton of middle grade – I just need to discover the books that I’ll love! It was one of my 2014 Bookish Resolutions to read more middle grade this year and I cannot wait to get stuck in. I’ve already read Fortunately, the Milk… and I am currently reading (and loving) Liar and Spy. Who said children’s books are just for children? Not me! […]

  46. This is just stunning post! Now I want to buy that book set!:) Probably the best way to describe why I like children’s stories is a quote of Neil Gaiman: “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” + they are often funny an imaginative

  47. […] The Pretty Books Blog • Why you’ren never too old to read children’s books  […]

  48. […] Guardian, School Library Journal, Gawker, GoodReads, Buzzfeed and many personal blogs have been going over this “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” analogy for years: Is there […]

  49. I want to read a series I started when I was in middle school. I’m half way done with college now. Wasn’t sure if that was weird or not…. I don’t feel any different than I did back then so I see no reason why I shouldn’t read it!

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