Friday, December 6, 2013

Genre doesn't determine quality...

Some people genuinely believe that children's literature can never qualify as good literature. I feel bad for them. Kent University thought it was okay to say this 

teachers at the Centre for Creative Writing "love great literature and don't see any reason why our students should not aspire to produce it … We love writing that is full of ideas, but that is also playful, funny and affecting. You won't write mass-market thrillers or children's fiction on our programmes." 

I think they were truly surprised that other folk didn't agree with them and brushed off the complaints about their position on children's literature with a few jokes. Eventually they apologised but I couldn't help feeling they weren't entirely sure what had just happened. A book for children is simple to write and simple to read. Move along. Nothing to see here people.

And folk commenting on the article didn't get it either 
- lol at all the butthurt Dan Brown and Harry Potter readers on CiF crying because someone pointed out they are reading childish unchallenging books said letusberealistic.

I don't think letusberealistic (or Kent University) is reading children's books properly, or the right ones. But Frip's comment 

A lot of people read for pleasure - not to be challenged. I am one of them. My work is challenging - I want entertainment when I read. Why does a book have to challenge you? 

which appears to be an attempt to support children's books is not much better. Many children's books from YA novels to picture books contain big ideas. Complex themes and issues are put forward in a highly distilled format (no mean feat) that explores, explains and enlightens sometimes in less than 1000 words. Sometimes in less than 500 words. In a way that a very young mind can take it on board and move forward toward adulthood with that knowledge understood and absorbed. These books are challenging and entertaining. Plenty of adult books cannot do both. 

I'm not going to dispute that there are some rubbish children's books out there with little thought or effort put in to them. With cliched, tired or empty themes or stories that revolve around a one note joke. But there are many children's books that easily qualify as good writing. Surely good writing or a good book is not determined by it's genre. My biggest surprise is that adult fans of adult literature believe they never read a good book until they read an adult book. Maybe they had difficult childhoods that they would rather block out or deny. How easily they forget that it is probably only good children's books that got them through those challenging years.