If you have ever read my blog, you are bound to have come across the title Walk Two Moons several times. I realized recently that I have never actually explained why I love this book so much, rather why a ‘children’s book’ is one of my favorite books of all time. First, I will quote the movie “You’ve Got Mail” (another title on my list of favorites): “When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading does.” This is extremely true. It’s like, your mind is so fresh when you are young, that everything leaves an impression and it becomes inherent– like knowing your name or your first address.
I read Walk Two Moons for the first time when I was 9. I did not like it. I was confused and I did not really appreciate it. I read it again a year later and fell in love. Walk Two Moons is a beautiful story. There is hardly another way to describe it. Salamanca Tree Hiddle, our main character, is endearing, strong and thoughtful. She is perceptive and wise beyond her years. Her grandparents are full of love and in them I saw my own grandparents. I think the thing about this book that makes it so wonderful is that it is real. It has the characteristics of childhood, it has life lessons, it acknowledges cultural differences in a subtle way.
It is very easy for children’s books to be patronizing. Sharon Creech treats children like people and not like kids. That is important. She trusts them with bigger concepts because she knows that they can rise to the occasion. There is a quote on the wall in my school by a man named Avery Barras: “If what I am saying goes over your head, raise your head.” This is a hard thing to do, but as humans we are made to adapt. How can we expect kids to read sophisticated books if we give them books that patronize them? The only way to get better is to challenge and to practice. Kids are perceptive and they will follow where they are lead, but they will figure more out on their own. However, more recently the lines between adult and child audiences have been blurred.
There was recently an article in the Wall Street Journal about why adults are suddenly reading kids and young adult novels. Kids books are entertaining. They are often about real problems, so there is depth, but they also have very entertaining plot lines. The article cites Harry Potter as the series that paved the way for the adult foray into children’s literature. I often forget that Harry Potter is a children’s series, but I was reading them when I was eight. Thirty and forty year-old people were also reading them when I was eight. While this may seem like it encourages a degradation in the tastes of the adult population, I actually think that it will improve the quality of reading for children and adults alike. Now, authors have to compete with children’s novels in addition to other adult novels. Some authors like James Patterson and John Grisham have written for children to expand their audiences and compete with successful children’s authors. The article is really interesting– if you are interested, I would give it a click.
Snow day today! Reading and hot chocolate are in store :)