Books for Obsolete Children

"Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them.", Dr. Seuss said, when explaining why he preferred writing for children. For anyone who loves reading children's literature for its exquisite writing, fast-moving plots, and memorable characters, it's often difficult to convince other adults to give children's books a try. Perhaps by showcasing the well-received adult works written by authors best known for their children's books, we might make the argument that good writing is just good writing, no matter the intended audience. Here are some well-known children's authors who have also published books for adult readers.

Judy Blume, author of many memorable children's books such as "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" and "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing", is also a successful author of books for adults. Her most recent novel for adults is "In the Unlikely Event". Set in the early 1950s in the midst of the Korean War, this story mirrors the real-life occurrences in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, when three airplanes crashed in the area in the span of less than two months.

Lemony Snicket thrilled middle-grade children with his dark and darkly funny "A Series of Unfortunate Events". However, the elusive Mr. Snicket never goes on author tours; he instead sends his cohort Daniel Handler. Handler's books, like Snicket's, often feature delightful grammar lessons, but the material is much more suitable for adults! Check out "The Basic Eight", your typical high school story of gossip, crushes, murder, and absinthe. 

Beloved author Roald Dahl, like Snicket, draws juvenile readers into a world often populated with rotten grownups and heroic children and animals. Think "Matilda", who outsmarts all the bad adults in her life to make her way in the world, and "The Witches", the story of a young boy, who with the help of his knowledgeable-in-the-ways-of-witches grandmother, brings down a coven of witches even after they've turned him into a mouse. Dahl's books for adults generally make the grownup world look even more dark, sinister, and cringingly funny. Much of his best adult writing is in the form of short stories, and one collection to try is "Skin". The title story features a collector of body art, which should give you an idea of the tone of most of his stories!

On the other side of the spectrum, E.B. White was as gentle and nature-loving as his books, such as "Charlotte's Web" and "Stuart Little", suggest. He began his career at the New Yorker writing articles and essays for adults. He also edited and updated "The Elements of Style", a grammar handbook and writing style guide, further proving that children's authors are masters of the craft of writing and deserving of respect! His essay "Here is New York", written in 1949, is considered a love letter to New York City, the place he called home when he wasn't escaping to the quiet and privacy of his farm in Maine.

A.A. Milne brought the world "Winnie-the-Pooh", which became a world-wide phenomenon. Milne, however, resented the celebrity that came along with these books and regretted naming the human character after his own son, Christopher Robin Milne. Written in 1922, "The Red House Mystery" predates Winnie-the-Pooh by four years. It was a popular mystery of the time in the "locked-room" style, with the crime set in a country house and the suspects a group of house guests of various temperaments and character. 

Here at Center for the Reader, we don't judge any book that you choose to read, whether it is written for adults or children. We hope that you pick up something you like and we are here to help you with suggestions if you're not sure what you want to read next.

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