by Susan Berger
Now I am a grownup and a writer and I still love to read kids’ books. Sometimes I don’t know whether it’s the grown up in me that likes the book or my inner self which never did grow up.
For example: In January I checked out a book from The Kailua library – that’s right, I was in Hawaii - called The Cheshire Cheese Cat, A Dickens of a Tale It was on the 2011 Cybil’s finalist list for midgrade Fantasy/ sciencefiction.
I loved it. But I couldn’t figure out whether it was my grownup self who love it or my kid self. I checked the front of the book. (Kailua library still stamps due dates on the inside cover.) I was the second person to have read the book. My grownup self loved that book. So did the Cybil judges. It was a winner.Then I picked up two picture books highly recommended by the Librarian:
ThirteenWords, by Lemony SnicketOh migosh, you have to read this book!
Ten Birds by Michelle YoungReally clever.
I loved them both, but I wasn’t sure whether kids would love them as much as I did. I took them out and read them to five year old Livy and eight year Ka’ula. Neither girl asked to have them read a second time. I asked if they thought they were funny. They each said, "Yes." Neither of them looked amused. Both immediately reached for another book.
Then there was Lane Smith’s It’s a Book.I thought it was hilarious, but I couldn’t get any of the kids I read to interested in it. They nodded and said, "Next."
On the other hand, when I read them Rhyming Dust Bunnies They wanted to read it again....and again.
The question which surfaced in my mind, was who are the authors writing for? Who am I writing for? I am sure we are all trying to keep our audience in mind, but are we managing it?
Here is the list of the Newbery Award Winners 2012-1922
I don’t see Judy Blume on there. I see one Beverly Cleary. I see Gary Pausen’s Hatchet. That was one of my son’s favorites. How many of these books did you read as a child?
Here is the list of Caldecott Winners from 1938 -2012
I own a few of these. How many of these have stood the test of time in your house? I notice Dr Seuss and Margaret Wise Brown are not listed, nor do I see Mo Willems.
Then I looked through the books nominated for the 2012 Nene Awards
I don't think many of these titles are on any prestigious award list. But kids are reading these books.
Here are the NY times best seller lists from March 25, 2012:
Here is this year’s Cybil finalist list . I've read a few of these:
Just Grace and the Double Surprise.
Clementine and Just Grace are very popular with the 6-8 set and deservedly so. My inner kid and my grownup self loved these.
I think the grown up in me liked this one. I don’t think it will be a favorite with kids. It seemed "teachy."
Warp Speed satisfied my inner geek and I will reread this.Finally here are the Cybil Winners for 2011
I plan to read a few more on the Cybil list. I may or may not dip into the NY Times list. The NY Times and I rarely like the same things.So my questions to you are:
As a parent, how do you choose your children’s books?
As a writer, who are you writing for? When we labor over our wondrous first paragraph, whom are we trying to impress? The editor? The agent? Our target audience??Tell me what do you think?
Disclaimer: I used Amazon links because I can find the pictures and titles in the same place which makes it easier to do the linking. All of these books are available at your Independent book stores or at your local library.