It’s true, to the point of being a truism, that early reading changes lives. We readers who were ourselves transformed by library story times, bedtime stories, and flashlights smuggled under the covers with which to savor one last page, know this in our bones. It often inspires us to pass the gift on: to share a picture book we loved with new parents, or to deliver hearty recommendations of books that still illuminate our memories. Readers beget new readers—it’s a cycling grace.
But while passing the gift on is a worthy pastime, may I propose a simultaneous experiment? Treat yourself. Revive that old joy. We get so lost in recalling the books that moved us first that we sometimes forget this simple truth: children’s books aren’t just for children.
Adults: indulge! This issue, with its spotlight on children’s books, is replete with more than the usual opportunities to lose ourselves in books meant to light that early spark. Our managing editor, Danielle, and I have the opportunity, each issue, to immerse ourselves in picture books, and it’s an experience that always proffers surprises: tears where we did not expect them; nostalgia in bright corners of fresh pages; a reignition of childish delight. I found it in titles like In the Meadow of Fantasies, a translated fairy tale whose imaginative illustrations poked at buried memories of forgotten dreams. Danielle was moved to star her reviews of Adrift and Every Little Kindness, two titles with their own singular magic. And it remains available in our offerings for older young readers, too—in Jane Yolen’s Arch of Bone, a middle grade take on the aftermath of Moby-Dick; in the young adult The Winter Charlatan, which infuses feminism into a favorite fairy tale. We would cheat ourselves out of wonders if we elected to only recommend these books to others because their lower age limits are, well, low. Remember: “3 and up” is also an invitation to own that “up.”
But if reminiscing is not your bag, this issue is also flush with exciting titles that concentrate on the “up” crowd. Our nature feature packs five titles that revel in the wonders and weirdness of the wild, including A Salad Only the Devil Would Eat, which earned a star for the style with which it celebrates ecological quirks; and the literary fiction feature has seven books that wait to dazzle grown-up imaginations (don’t miss Skin Elegies, which blurs genre lines with its inventive, poetic turns). I say this with the same conviction that I once devoted to sneaking reads in math class: we know there’s something great here for you, too!
Image from Hakim’s Odyssey: Book 1: From Syria to Turkey, by Fabien Toulmé, Hannah Chute (Translator). Image used with permission from Graphic Mundi.
Michelle Anne Schingler