Remembering the Significance of Kids’ Books

Ellen McAllister ’24

“Wonder.” “Because of Winn-Dixie.” “Harry Potter.” “Walk Two Moons.” “Charlotte’s Web.” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” These titles might sound familiar to you from when you were a kid. You probably read these in third or sixth grade. All the books have creased covers and all the pages are folded over from so many young and excited readers. A lot of children’s chapter books were made into cheesy remake movies. They have been inspiring children for a very long time, myself included.

I still like to read children’s chapter books as an adult. Some of my all-time favorite books are chapter books for kids. They might be some of the greatest and most fun books you’ll ever encounter. Why? For starters, the books are short and have large print, so you’ll fly through them and then feel accomplished that you finished a book so quickly. And who doesn’t like that feeling? These books almost always have happy endings and will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside after reading. What I love most about them though is that they all teach a lesson. It’s not always glaringly obvious, but it’s there, woven throughout, and most times young readers won’t even realize that they’re learning to stand up for themselves or be resilient. They just think that they’re reading an entertaining book.

There is even a whole book award dedicated to chapter books that are written for kids. The Newbery Award was created in 1922; that’s over one hundred years of chapter book s inspiring young readers to be good people, how to trust others and to do the right thing. It might seem strange that there is such an emphasis put on these early readers, but that’s because these books are incredibly impactful and play a large part in shaping young minds. Without having access to these books, children would not learn important life lessons or feel inspired to read.

As we grow up, we move on to different and more complex books with lies, cheating and deceit. The books get weird and uncomfortable and sometimes are hundreds of pages long. We, as a society, are always trying to grow up and move on very quickly and to be the best in everything. But we don’t realize what we’re missing. You won’t find a young girl going on a cross country trip with her goofy old neighbor to find her lost mother and learn more about herself. You’ll have no idea what it’s like to live in the 1800s and not want to conform to societal standards as a young girl who just wants to play outside. Or the poor boy who has to outsmart and stay calm to win a life-changing fortune. Why are we in such a hurry to read other books that won’t make our days a little brighter or feel a little better about humanity?  

We spend our whole lives trying to grow up as fast as we can, to leave our childhood behind and to get a good job. What we forget about is the magic that reading brings us. College bogs us down with pages and pages of textbooks to read each night, so the last thing our eyes want to focus on is more words. Children’s chapter books, however, might just be the reprieve that you need as they warm your heart with their sweet stories of finding where you belong, how to get through tough times and working through troubled friendships, all written in large print on tiny pages. Couldn’t we all use a bit of that wisdom?

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