Here is the official DYESTTAFTSA survial guide to those moments when people go “Wait, what, you like children’s books?”. In all encounters such as these, that alas the adult fan of children’s literature is somewhat prone to receiving, DYESTTAFTSA reccommends calmness and clarity as your way forward. Or, alternatively, you can go Margot Maynard on them (which, fyi, DYESTTAFTSA does not approve of nor endorse but would be fascinated as to your bookend selection process).
The official plan is as below:
- Sit the individual down, very gently, and give them a copy of The Fault In Our Stars by John Green or A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Jim Kay.
- When they’ve finished reading it, return to the room, rescue them from their tears and say “That’s why.”
NB: If the individual does not howl with tears at the end of this book, they are beyond help and DYESTTAFTSA reccommends backing away slowly and returing to your copy of Eleanor and Park.
More Complicated Encounters
These are different and I’d advise caution in engaging on many an online piece, primarily due to the linkbait nature of a high proportion of these articles. However should you feel inclined to respond. DYESTTAFTSA reccomends the following and will cheer you on. Maybe by singing something from Bring It On. (Who are we kidding, there is no maybe in this, DYESTTAFTSA will cheer you on wholeheartedly by singing something from Bring It On and probably something from High School Musical as well should the encounter prove longer than originally envisaged).
- Elaborate on the quietly challenging nature of children’s literature, referencing the world building and powerful multilayered narrative of Philip Pullman and Neil Gaiman. Perhaps dwell on how the apparent simplicity of something like Slog’s Dad challenges our attitudes towards life, death and everything in between and does so in a handful of pages. Just maybe, just maybe, throw in an offhand mention to something like The Railway Children and mention how children’s literature has been questioning, challenging and conceptualising our attitudes and concepts of and towards gender roles – and has been doing so for centuries now? Just maybe, I mean, you don’t want to dazzle them straight off.
Now, often the above will work, but should the encounter prove more troublesome, DYESTTAFTSA suggests something along the lines of the following.
- Point out that literature is our communal expression of voice, children’s literature represents (in one sense) a societal expression of our hopes, desires and dreams for our youth and if that is not worth investigating, then what is? Perhaps also consider highlighting the fact that our literacy is built in these years and the methodology and means of building that literacy often influence our further life choices and paths and successes?
- Mention that children’s literature is literature written by adults for a relatively unknown quantity that we can never hope to wholly understand due to the inability in many cases to comunicate effectively (viz. pre-literates / emerging literates), and that the nature of this dialogue creates something quite exciting.
- Highlight how, very quietly, children’s literature authors are writing avant-garde, stylish and mind-boggling books that break, quite ruthlessly and quite spectacularly, every rule in the book. (Unhooking the Moon, Life: an exploded diagram, My Dad’s A Birdman, There are cats in this book..) and point out that should these books be picked up blindly, they would be indistinguishable from say a McEwan, a Coelho or a Martel.
And should none of the above work? DYESTTAFTSA would remind you that you have better things to do with your time. Seriously. There’s a new Sarah Lean out, you know?