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Features | Are You Too Old For Children's Books?

With Frances Hardinge being awarded Costa's Book of the Year last week for her children's novel The Lie Tree, children's fiction is a hot topic in the literary world at the moment. There has been plenty of discussion surrounding whether or not a children's book should have even been nominated alongside adult books, never mind whether or not it should have won, but that's not why we're here today. Oh no, we're here to determine whether or not you, yes you, are too old to read children's books, and we're going to do this by answering a few easy questions.

1. Have you finished learning?
I don't just mean, 'have you finished school?' I mean 'are you done with learning things about the world and about human nature?' Of course we can usually learn something about the world we live in from every book we read, but children's books are particularly equipped for teaching kids valuable life lessons. Think about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for example - the message there is that it's good to not be greedy or selfish, but maybe you're old enough now that you never need a gentle reminder of something like that anymore?

2. Is your comedic taste just too mature now?
You're older now, you're more sophisticated, and we all know real grown ups only read serious books and never ever books with characters who have silly names or fart jokes in them. The humour in certain children's books might be a little more subtle and darker, like in the works of Lemony Snicket, but some of the characters probably still have odd names and maybe you just can't see past that kind of childishness.

3. Have you forgotten what it was like to be a child?
The further away we get from childhood, the more difficult it can be for some of us to remember it. It's possible that you've just forgotten how exciting it was to roll down a big hill or how scary shadows in the dark used to be. Maybe you just can't connect with a child character, because you don't remember at all what it was like to be one.

4. Are you too busy for adventures?
A lot of children's books revolve around outlandish adventures and it's totally understandable if you just do not have time for reading about wizards and talking lions when you get home from a long day at the office. Children have all day to spend in imaginary worlds with their friends, but maybe you just don't have the time to spend on giving your imagination that kind of workout.

5. Do you think all children are the same?
Maybe you think all children like the same things and think in the same way so it just makes sense that all children's books must be essentially the same. There's no need for you to explore the different stories or genres of children's fiction. Jacqueline Wilson and Philip Pullman both write books for children so their books are probably exactly the same, right?

If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions, then you just might be too old for children's books. I'm sorry. Although, if you're one of the people who thinks that The Lie Tree should never have been nominated for Book of the Year purely because it's primarily a book for children, then I'm sure you won't mind anyway.

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