My husband came back from work the other day and told me he’d got me a present. Needless to say, I was delighted. what would it be? Chocolates? Flowers? Expensive, luxurious bubble bath?
He presented me with a flat, square parcel and I opened it with curiosity, pulling out….a picture book!
And, actually, I was delighted! This particular book was one he’d recently seen elsewhere and thought I’d enjoy it and he was absolutely right. It’s not for me to give to our children, for their bookshelf. it’s a present for me, for my bookshelf. And it’s not the only one there, either.
There’s a lot of talk about young adult (YA) books being crossover books, appealing to both teenagers and adults. It’s also the case, sometimes, with middle-grade books, aimed at 8-12 year olds. The Harry Potter and Twilight series, of course, are good examples. But can picture books be crossover books too? I say, yes. And I’ll explain why.
I think there is something so utterly charming about picture books that they can appeal to any age. They remind us of simpler times, innocent days and that wonderful optimism we once had – that anything was possible if you wished hard enough. For me, personally, it tends to be the more wistful or dreamy picture books that appeal to me now as an adult. My mother bought me a picture book when I was 13 years old, about a teddy bear and I loved it. I still do. I have been very noble and actually allowed my children to have this on their bookshelf now, but it is still most definitely mine. At the start of turbulent teenage years, it was wonderful to have that little bit of childhood, sitting there on my shelf.
The next picture book I had as an adult, I bought myself. It was when I was at university and was all about dreams. It seemed appropriate at a time of choices, decisions and excitement about the future. And while I was there, I bought one for my friend, because I knew she’d love it. She’d had a rough day with mountains of work to do so I took it up to her, hoping she wouldn’t think I was being silly. However, when I presented her with the book, it turned out she already had it! And that’s when I appreciated I was not the only ‘grown-up’ who loved picture books.
I’ve since bought others for adult friends and for their children, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these books lingered in their houses long after their offspring have left. Don’t tell my children, but I’ve got my eye on some of their books already and should they ever decide to part with them, these special books will find a home on my shelf. And when my children leave home, I’ll slip one into their suitcases, just to remind them of simpler days and that delightful childhood innocence which makes the world seem a brighter place.
As long as I’ve bought a copy of my own, first…