Time to Grow Up?

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by Ann Giles

It’s that pitying look. It makes me want to smile every time.

It’s because of the children’s books. Not my children’s books, but children’s books in general. There is no need to feel sorry for me because I read, almost exclusively, children’s books. I may be past 40 - and a bit - but I have no need for ‘literary’ novels where the protagonist agonises throughout the book.

I have experienced three childhoods, and I hope this latest one won’t ever come to an end. Until my natural time is up.

First time I was a child when I was meant to be a child and I progressed from picture books to Alistair McLean, with a few things in-between, after which I reckoned I was an adult. Read a few more McLeans, but by the time I’d covered Anita Brookner’s first four novels I was ready to feel really depressed.

A university literature course I took, included a small part consisting of children’s literature. I was very surprised, but didn’t mind in the least. Being forced to read Anne of Green Gables at the advanced age of 24 was wonderful! The course required me to read the first one only, but I read them all in quick succession.

The main gain from my second childhood, aka the course, was the understanding that you are allowed to read children’s books as an adult. It didn’t make me give up on adult books, but my diet incorporated many more young books from then on.

When The Son and then The Daughter arrived I wasn’t shouting for joy to be back with picture books, but I hope they were supplied in a suitable manner. The Son didn’t take to reading as fast as he should have, so I threatened him - just a little - and he quickly saw the error of his ways. I chucked my beloved Famous Fives at him, and then he went on to read Roald Dahl.

Never having read Dahl as a child (too early), and knowing I was ‘allowed’, I read them too. Unfortunately, before I was done, The Son moved on and I opted to follow him, in order that we would have something to talk about. I find it helps at mealtimes.

Thus my third childhood took off with a vengeance and it’s still going strong. Not only did I read The Son’s books, but by the time he was in secondary school I followed him there. To the school library, I hasten to add. They needed a volunteer, and I was it. How I read! There were all the books I wanted, and none of those depressing adult ones.

Now The Son and The Daughter have been ‘educated’, and are no longer at school, and neither am I. I have retreated to my reading chair and the kitchen table where I run my children’s books blog empire. It’s great. I love it. Children’s books have everything you need in a good book, and none of the depressing stuff.

So, no. I won’t grow up. I won’t!

And that’s why I pity those poor people with their mistaken pitying looks. I’m having the time of my life. And when I don’t read children’s books I read crime novels. They get the same Cinderella treatment from those ‘proper’ adults, but that’s another story...

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