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Do you need to be a kid to read a kid's book?

Do you need to be a kid to enjoy a kid’s book?

My answer is no. While you need to be an adult to read adult books, the opposite is not true for kid's books, except for perhaps picture books.

There are many middle grade and young adult fiction titles that make great reading for adults. Quite a few of these books are on my ‘what I would take from my burning house’ list.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins (young adult)
I was not a teenager when this came out. However, I had heard so much about this book that I decided to give it a go. I was in my forties when I bought it, and I loved this book and this series. I loved the books and movies. Did I identify with Katniss the teenager and her teenage issues? No. I identified with Katniss the rebel who revolted against the establishment, which is what adults would love to do but can’t because of mortgages, bills, insurance.

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien (middle grade)
I was ten when this book was read to me by my 4th-grade teacher. We sat in the library and he read “The Hobbit” to us. I enjoyed the tale so much I read that I borrowed the book from the library to read on my own. I fell in love with the goblins. Fast forward twenty-odd years, and I tracked down a copy and promptly re-read it. I was still in love with the goblins in the cave. The great thing about “The Hobbit” was that I could loan it to my niece to read when she visited one weekend. (BTW she never gave it back so I had to track down another copy).

“Kevin the Troll” by Doug McLeod (middle grade)
When I first wrote “Dog Town”, I wanted to check out what middle-grade books looked like now, versus what they looked like when I was a kid. I saw “Kevin the Troll” in the local bookstore and bought a copy. I absolutely loved this book. It was fun. It was an easy read, something light and entertaining, which is the purpose of books.

“Tuck Everlasting” by Natalie Babbitte and “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E B White (middle grade)
I read these books when I was in primary school. Loved. Loved. Loved them. These were worlds I could escape into as I slothed in the beanbag in the school library. Years later I tracked down my own copies of these great books (as you can tell I am getting nostalgic in my old age and a few years ago I decided I would purchase copies of the books I read and loved as a child). I promptly re-read them both and neither had lost any of their magic.

“Watership Down” by Richard Adams (middle grade)
What a wonderful classic story told from the point of view of rabbits. I only read this book an adult a few years ago. Never as a child. To be honest, the imagery of the first “Watership Down” movie with the rabbits terrified me. I would not have been able to handle anything depicting cruelty. Turns out that I was wrong to have waited so long. This is a dark yet beautiful book. I was moved by the plight of these rabbits. 

“The Outsiders” by S E Hinton (young adult)
This was the book that spoke to me the most as a teen. I vividly remember the day I read “The Outsiders”. It was a weekend and I did not leave my room, growling at anyone who tried to disturb me. I gorged on this book from start to finish, reveling in the stories of Ponyboy and his gang. I promptly went to the library and borrowed the follow-up novels. I still own this collection and nobody can ‘borrow’ this from me. It is mine, I tell you. Mine.

I’m sure if you think back on the books you read as a kid, some of them would fall into your to-be-re-read pile. And for those of you who purchase a copy of “Dog Town” for your kids or grandkids, have no fear, you can enjoy reading this adventure story too.


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