It’s a common belief that children’s books are meant for…well…children.
The truth is, though, that children’s literature is meant to be enjoyed by anyone who reads it. Children’s authors often know that parents are reading right alongside their children, which means that a lot of their books are filled with references and lessons meant for adults to understand and enjoy.
One example is a book called The Boy Who Opened My Eyes, written by Elaine Sussman about her blind younger brother, Mark. An article from the Sun Sentinel talks about how the book showcases parents willing to help their child through any difficulty—including something as difficult as growing up without sight.
“Mark’s parents made his life interesting, always designing ways to allow their son to experience the world of sight,” the article says. The book showcases the ways his parents taught him to embrace his life without sight, not to feel sorry for himself despite his handicap, and the lessons they taught him about being brave and positive.
While the book can and should resonate with children about the ways they can learn and become better people through the difficulties they face, the book is also an excellent reminder to parents that the way the face challenges has a direct impact on their children.
You can also think about a book like Night Buddies; the parents may not be the main characters of the story, but they still have a big impact on the storyline. John’s mother is a skeptic, cynical about her son’s imagination and quick to scold him for the adventures he wants to share with her. In the end, it makes him feel the need to hide a big part of his life from her.
While this can be seen as a minor storyline, it can also serve as a reminder to parents to listen to their children, and be kind when they open up to you. Encouraging their imagination can bring the two of you closer than ever. I have firsthand experience with that, creating these stories years ago with my own son!
The next time you’re at the library, I’d encourage you to pick up a children’s book. You never know what you might learn!