J.K. Rowling’s novels tap into another mainstay of kids’ books, says Lerer: the fantasy that unlike adults—whom children’s authors often depict as dull, rule-bound or inept—every child is special, with gifts and talents waiting to be recognized. “All children believe they’re wizards and their parents are ‘muggles.’ ”
Muggles may find it hard to imagine that children get all this out of stories, but Lerer believes some do. “Why do kids re-read books once they know the plot?” When his son was 10, he says, the boy again and again read Louis Sachar’s Holes, about a strange camp in which children must spend their days digging holes in search of who-knows-what. Holes, Lerer says, shows that “being a child is like being in prison,” an idea that speaks to any kid who feels trapped in the role of student or son or daughter. But there’s a treasure to be found, which offers escape.
Books do give kids the chance to stretch their legs and imagine another life or a state of being from the safety of their room or favorite reading chair. This important aspect of children's books is one that I have come to appreciate and revere more and more as an adult.
As Seth puts it: “I want to go where the wild things are, but I also want to be home for dinner.” Children’s books let kids have it both ways.
Quick read and a nice piece!