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