A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.— C. S. Lewis
One of the great benefits of youth fiction is that, when written well, and so many are, any adult can pick a book up, read it and find deep joy in stories that are engaging and delightful. Yes, the characters are almost always ten, eleven and twelve year olds, but the stories often delve into the deep themes of life that touch the human heart. They are well told and leave behind the hubris and unnecessary sensuality of young adult fiction. They are a joy to read aloud to our children as child and adult alike can be drawn into the sometimes fantastical, sometimes heart wrenchingly realistic plots that unfold in so many of the books written for youth.
I remember finding myself unable to continue a chapter near the end of Okay for Now that I had been reading aloud to my kids as I fought back tears. Other books have had me laughing out loud or raging with anger at injustice or simply smiling with joy at the kindness of a character. These books, written for young children, are often some of the best I’ve read. Yes, they can lack the depth of plot of the classics and the sentence structure is usually not as complex as adult fiction, but they are more often than not, just as good.
This is the reason when we review books in this genre we always place the age as: 8, 10, or 12 – 99, though I suppose centenarians can enjoy them as well.
A good place to find these books – aside from our top ten lists – is the John Newbery Medal books. Each year since 1922 they have awarded one winner and any number of Newbery Honor awards to books in the children’s literature genre. You can find the whole list of Newbery winners and honor books here: Newbery Medal
by Aaron G Myers