Monday, June 2, 2014

Those Books Are For Kids!

After going through an old box of CDs, I pulled out a few and gave them a listen. Revisiting music I loved when I was between the ages of 10 and 15 brought back a lot of memories. I also came to the realization that, as a kid, I did not have the worldly experience that I would need to be able understand most of the lyrics. Clearly, I understand English and so I know what words mean, but I didn't understand the feelings behind them. I didn't have comparative experiences to what the singers were singing about and with adult ears, these lyrics and this music took on new meaning for me. Revisiting this music gave me a kind of "Ah-ha!" moment.

(Back in the day when I was listening to music it would take me years to truly understand.)
(I'm the one with the aversion to sunlight.)

At work I had to go through some lists of summer reading suggestions from area schools. Reading the titles of many of these books reminded me of ones I had read as a child or ones I never had the chance to read. Just like the music that had new meaning when revisiting it as an adult, I think the same can be said for children's literature. I'm not talking about the Adventures of Captain Underpants series, I mean classics like Tuck Everlasting, and The Diary of Anne Frank. Books that I read as a kid but had no context in which to put them in; books that left my memory almost as soon as I finished reading them because I didn't have personal experiences which allowed me to connect with the events in the stories on a more emotional level; books that were easily wasted on my youthful self.

As a student of literature, I've spent the last several years honing my ability to dig through a book and see the deeper meanings within a text. As a child I never had this ability - another way these books were wasted on me. But now I can fix that. I can go back and read those books again, take an afternoon and see what they were really about, compare them to my life now, make a connection to the deeper intentions of the story, find what makes these books classics and what makes them the kind of literature that schools want kids to read even if kids can't truly comprehend them or even remember them past childhood.

So that's what I'm going to try to do this summer. I'm cultivating a list and I'm planning on sitting down and really giving these books the focus they deserve and that my childhood self couldn't provide. And who knows, maybe by the end of this summer I'll have learned a few new things about writing that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. :)

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