Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A thousand readings

I've been collecting, reading, admiring, and creating children's books for a good long while now. Until recently, I thought it a relatively easy task to pick a picture book up and determine if it will capture the attention of a child and offer them something of value. I'd flip through the pages, take in the illustrations, and read through it quickly to look for flow.

But becoming a mom has turned all that on it's head. I now read Tilly's favorites over and over, day after day, morning, noon, and night. Soon into those kind of repeat readings, the true quality of the writing becomes plain as day, and the book takes on a different feel. Some books that I first found sweet, I've come to dread slogging through. I trip on their clunky turns of phrase, mouthful of syllables, and jarring jumps in plot. I find myself editing them as I read.

Then others just glide off the tongue and virtually read themselves. It's made me realize how important it is for children's book creators to spend a lot of time reading to children, at some point in their career.

Here we are reading Peter Rabbit (best done in a lion suit).

And here are some of our other favorites; Tilly never tires of them and neither do I.



Scott Murray said...

It's amazing how kids can love books so much. Some will have hundreds of books, but will demand you only read the dinosaur books. The better written books are also a little easier to memorize (Fox in Sox, anyone?) Do you think kids like books written in verse more?

Anna Alter said...

Hi Scott- My feeling is that verse/prose doesn't matter so much as the quality of the writing. Rhymes are certainly easy to remember, but the books that seem to have the most staying power have a high standard of craft. Not always an easy thing to define for us grown-ups, but I do think that kids can recognize it.