Are Children’s Books Just for Children?

By Darlene Foster

I write children’s books. Actually, I should correct that. I write books suitable for children. But they are books any age can read and enjoy.

            Recently I listened to an interview with Lawrence Hill, author of the award-winning novel, The Book of Negroes.He discussed his latest release, Beatrice and Croc Harry, which he describes as a story for children and adults. He mentioned there should be no separation between children’s and adults’ books. He mentioned that as authors, we should not shy away from including serious and painful issues in children’s stories as they can handle them. He also mentioned, and I agree, many adults enjoy reading from a child’s point of view.  

            As a young reader, I devoured everything in the children’s section of our small prairie library, so I started reading from the adult section. I read Gone with the Wind in three days when I was twelve years old and loved it. Obviously, some books are not suitable for children. I recall my mother hiding books like Peyton Place and Tropic of Cancer, because she knew I would read anything I could get my hands on.  

            Recently a neighbour mentioned that he was sad that his daughter was now able to read on her own, as he could no longer read all the wonderful children’s books, including my Amanda Travels series. I replied, “Why not? You can still read them on your own and then discuss them with her.”

            There are no reading police that watch out for adults reading children’s books. If there was, I’d be in jail or fined heavily as I read a lot of novels written for children. I just finished reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin. Although it was written over a hundred years ago and the writing might be difficult for modern day readers, it was wonderful to follow the delightful Rebecca as she adapted to her new surroundings. I re-read Anne of Green Gablesevery few years.

            Reading is how we learn and grow, at any age. Children’s books often explore themes such as identity, injustice, misunderstanding, family crisis, friendship, disappointment, and death, among other contemporary issues. Things adults confront on a daily basis.

            I am always pleased when adults read my books and comment on how much they enjoyed them. One adult reader, planning a trip to New Mexico, got ideas of things to see and do on an upcoming visit by reading Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind. I am delighted to have many wonderful reviews from adults who have read my books.

            Once on a crowded ferry from Vancouver Island to Vancouver, I sat with a family of five. Two adults and three elementary-aged boys. Each one of them was reading a different Harry Potter volume. I commented on how nice it was to see a family reading the same series together. The mother explained they purchased one complete set and share the books amongst them. She said they didn’t mind reading the series out of sequence. I can only imagine the lively discussions between the kids and the parents.

            Much can be learned by reading children’s and young adult fiction and non-fiction. When adults say they don’t understand young people today, perhaps they should read more from a young person’s point of view. Children’s books written by C.S. Lewis, E.B. White, Enid Blyton, and Kate DiCamillo, to name a few, can be life changing for readers of all ages.

            I don’t believe children’s books are just for children. I think I need to change my tag line to—I write books for everyone to enjoy!

            Because, let’s face it, we are all children at heart.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children

is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”― C.S. Lewis

1. Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask
2. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting
3. Amanda in England: The Missing Novel
4. Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone
5. Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
6. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind
7. Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action
8. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

Darlene Foster’s Amazon Author Page

Darlene Foster’s Website

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old Canadian girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, Darlene enjoys spending time at her house in Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Darlene Foster


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Kid Stuff & Children's Books, Special Events

36 responses to “Are Children’s Books Just for Children?

  1. Thanks for featuring me as a guest today, Karen. Happy May1st!!

  2. Great post, Darlene. I agree, books with young people in them can be read by anyone. I happen to love reading about all the many places Amanda has travelled, as does my granddaughter. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Who Should Read Children’s Books? | Darlene Foster's Blog

  4. The label interests me ‘children’s books’ or ‘books for children’. The fact is we can all read these books and enjoy them I have bought some recently because of the great illustrations in them. Also were ‘fairy tales’ really written for children?

    • I have often thought that fairy tales contain very adult themes. The illustrations alone are worth picking up a book from the children’s section. I have a lovely edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince, illustrated by Laura Stutzman that I take out and read every now and then for that very reason. I know I should give it to a young person but I just can’t let it go.

  5. Great post, Darlene – I agree with what you say. I missed a lot of children’s books when I was a girl because I wasn’t much of a reader. Now I enjoy reading them and I want to read more books written “for children and adults.” It’s important to know a child’s point of view but also understand that they can handle a lot more than we think they can. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. Well said, Darlene! My husband has been known to get me children’s books for Christmas. I do enjoy them!

  7. D.L. Finn, Author

    I love the statement that children’s books are for adults too. I agree. I am a fan of children’s books. Right now I buy them for my grandkids and read then before giving them the book. But when they get past that I will still read them. My daughter and I read the Harry Potter books together. Great memories with that. Wonderful post 🙂

  8. What a terrific post. I have read and enjoyed a few of Darlene’s Amanda books and I also read children’s book by other authors, both modern and classic. There is a lot of pleasure to be had from revisiting the world through the eyes of child.

  9. Elizabeth Herbert Cottrell

    What a wonderful article, Darlene, and as an avid reader, I agree with you completely. I have become reacquainted with books for young children since my grandchildren were born and have found them delightfully robust and engaging. I’m adding yours to our reading list for sure!

    I also pay attention to reviews of books in the “juvenile fiction” category, because there are many gems there too. I’m pleased to see some with young protagonists who have disabilities and still live rich, interesting lives. I hope it will help overcome so many of our societal prejudices.

    I loved your experience with the family reading together and your response to the man who had the idea he couldn’t still read books with his daughter. My own children (now grown) wanted me to read to them when they were sick long after they could read on their own. When my son wrote a book as a postdoctoral student in physics at Rice, his professor told him he was the best writer he had ever seen among his physics students. I thought our son would attribute that to his AP English teacher in high school, but he said, “No, Mom, I think it was because you read to us so much. I can hear what good sentences should sound like in my head.”

    Karen, thank you for having such an interesting guest!

    • Thank you for your comments, Elizabeth, and for sharing the story of your son and his response. It is so true, reading to children is a good start for them.

  10. I just re-read a children’s book, You Are My Friend by Aimee Reid, which tells the story of Mr. Rogers and His Neighborhood, actually a biography in a nutshell. A well-written children’s book works for all ages. Just like Darlene’s books! 😀

  11. So true! Books with children can, and should, be enjoyed by all. Even better, these books can be shared with adult and child, well past the time when the child can read for him/herself. 😀

    • Thanks, Donna. So pleased you can see the benefit of books for children. Reading with young people, even after they can read themselves is good in so many ways.

  12. petespringerauthor

    The children’s novel I’ve been reading to the seniors was a big hit. It’s MG and seems perfect because it’s a great plot but not too challenging for them to follow.

  13. Pingback: Who Should Read Children’s Books? — Darlene Foster’s Blog | Barbara Crane Navarro

  14. Pingback: Who Should Read Children’s Books? — Darlene Foster’s Blog — Barbara Crane Navarro – Tiny Life

  15. I’d also be in jail for reading children’s books if it was illegal. I will now think of you as Darlene Foster, the author who writes books suitable for all ages.

  16. Great post Darlene and you are spot on!!

  17. Pingback: Who Should Read Children’s Books? – Nelsapy

  18. Hi Darlene and Karen, What a great article, and and I so agree with Darlene that adults benefit from reading children’s books as well. The Amanda series is also ideal for people who are learning English. Toni x

  19. I used to say I didn’t read YA, but then I met your books.

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