Lately, I've been considering just why I gravitate to Children's Fiction so strongly. It's certainly not like I've got anything against other genres. I'm a huge fan of humorist Jill Conner Browne's Sweet Potato Queen's collection and Phillipa Gregory's Historical Fiction, and many others across a wide spectrum of fantasy, science fiction, crime and mainstream.
I guess it all goes back to the fact that I became an avid reader as a teen thanks to Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. My tastes have been influenced by my attitudes, fears and dreams of my youth. Above all, I'm a fan of stories told from the perspective of a child. In recent years, when the Middle-Grade and Young Adult genres began to teem with new series, I've found myself increasingly drawn to those kind of stories. I consumed Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events and J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter books faster than my children and their friends could keep up.
I regularly read "adult" books, too--I just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Bloodroot by Amy Greene, both of which I adored and was sorry to put down at their conclusions--but it's Children's Literature that I always return to. Children's Fantasy in particular, where characters in new and unknown worlds make great discoveries, wield magic, fight monsters, battle dragons, face their deepest fears and emerge victorious! It's a break from the drudgery that can be a grown-up's life.
Because I have so many children--five, for those of you who don't know me--some might not understand why I would immerse myself in children's stories with the scant little free time I have. You may be asking yourself what pleasure a full grown woman could truly derive from Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians, D. M. Cornish's Foundling Trilogy or Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games? In response I'd have to ask, what's not to love? Who doesn't enjoy seeing someone grow into the kind of person they themselves might once have hoped to be as a child?
The coming of age of the main character(s) is one of the things I love most about Middle-Grade and Young Adult literature. The way the world changes for them as they discover who they are makes the world change for me in some small way, too. These stories also give me a bit of perspective in another way. Clues about what I'm doing right and doing wrong as a parent preparing to send my own young people out into an ever-changing world full of its own kind of monsters and dragons.
So, how about you? Do you suffer from a little Peter Pan Syndrome too? If not, what's your favorite genre and why?