3 ways children’s books make you a better person

“Why do you read Tintin anymore? That’s so passé and aren’t you terribly old for that?”, smirked my well-intentional fried while catching me doing the act.

I raised my eye-brow and said nothing. “Read some serious stuff yaar. Nassim Nicholas Taleb…there are plenty…”, he left with  this ‘incredible’ piece of information and with a smug expression.

In a world where, reading equates to pacing through latest self-improvement books or behavioral economics now-a-days, no wonder plenty of people accuse children’s books causing a dumbing-down effect. Among children-adults alike.

3 ways children’s books make you a better person

A friend, who is now a parent (when did that happen?) confided in me. According to her- the world of pixel dust, pink butterflies, and blue-mountain is long gone. The sooner a child gets it, the better.

While this is a sad truth, striking a balance is not so bad either.

Here, 3 reasons to visit the kiddie-section at your favorite book-store once-in-a-while.

It brings you close to your ‘tribe’

I was a member of a closed-group in Facebook, dedicated to Sukumar Roy– the playwright-illustrator-story-writer-and-the-contributor-of-everything-awesome-and-humorous in Bengali children literature.

In this Facebook Group, I got to know people (age-group ranged from late-teen to early 80s), who share my love for Sukumar Roy.

Ex-  A high-flying executive who writes haiku in Bengali, eliciting literary non-sense.

A septuagenarian doodling in Adobe Illustrator.

The adults who love children’s books form a special type of bond, bereft of social status.

Tip: In case you sneakily binge on Winnie the Pooh, Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Malory Towers, don’t miss a chance to hunt down your tribe, even in the virtual medium.

It challenges perspective

On my 8th (or was it 7th?) birthday, I was gifted a copy (children’s version, translated version in my mother tongue ‘Bengali’) of Les Misérables.

The book cut back many ‘seemingly’ age-inappropriate details, such as- Fantine resorted to prostitution.

Instead, the translator inserted some mumbo-jumbo like ‘the lady fell on hard times’ bla bla.

I re-read Les Misérables when I was 12-13, and had already formed a vague idea about- what fallen women in novels ‘tend to do’.

3 ways children’s books make you a better person

During the part where Fantine was fired from factory and subsequently sold her teeth, hair (I didn’t know back then that human hair and teeth are sale-able) and became a whore, my ‘then’ puritan mind cringed.

At last, I was able to read ‘between lines’.

For me, it was pretty unthinkable for mothers to have sex. It was an earth-shattering revelation to me that- if needed, they could sell their bodies to feed scrawny daughter as well.

In 90s, the 12-13 year olds were pretty naïve.

Years later, while going through Les Misérables once again (this time the proper adult version) my perception changed about everything.

Especially the struggle of a grisette in a 19th century French society.

Tip: Whether you are re-reading The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (this is favorite another children’s-book-for-adult) or Bluebeard, reading children books as an adult, give you new insights.

It does color-therapy for you

I first read The Giving Tree at the ripe age of 29 and bawled my eyes out. The pictures blew my mind away off other sad things of life.

When I find a need to purge out tears,  this is my go-to book.

3 ways children’s books make you a better person

And Khirer Putul (condensed-milk doll, damn Wikipedia translation).

3 ways children’s books make you a better person

The pretty pictures do some much needed color therapy for me.

Tip: In case adult coloring books are not your thing, you should try some pretty picture books anyway. You might not feel angry so often anymore.




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