“Isn’t that for children?” They keep saying.
Yes. And no.
Two weeks ago, I visited Portobello Road market for the first time.
I stumbled across a book stall just as they were closing up. A small, presentable book caught my eye: ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.
“There’s lots more of those around the corner, want me to show you?” I heard over my shoulder. I accepted.
Alice in Wonderland was a concept that felt so familiar to me, yet I had never read the book or watched any film adaptations.
Everything I knew about Alice was purely through pop culture. Whether it was through films, TV shows or everyday conversation, the effect of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ seemed larger than “just a children’s book” to me.
I ended up buying an old copy that day, and so far, I’m thoroughly enjoying reading the origins of popular phrases and scenes that feel so familiar.
It got me thinking: what makes it a “children’s book” as opposed to a book for everyone?
Does a fictional world made for children have any unique properties to that made for adults? Are they both not made up?
Is it the repetitive, circular nature of some children’s books? Perhaps. But this wasn’t one of them.
Or, is it the language used? Are the words too simple? Too understandable? Do they obviate the need for a dictionary on-hand, like ‘adult’ books request of us? I often ask myself: would all stories benefit from being told at the level of a basic reading age.
There’s an underlying issue here that isn’t addressed as often as it ought to be, and is, in my opinion, extremely outdated.
It’s the notion that there’s a transition from childhood to adulthood that, once crossed, should not be revisited.
Children play. Adults work.
Children communicate simply, whilst we should decorate our communication with flair and complexity.
Children can dream. But adults shouldn’t fool themselves.
Perhaps we adults could benefit from a little creativity, a playful story and simple communication now and again.
Because I for one, am very glad to have gone down the rabbit hole of a “children’s book”.