PDA

View Full Version : Children's books that are not just for Children



Weezer
2012-01-21, 06:08 PM
I've recently come across a few books that were written primarily for children, but the authors clearly wrote them with the intention of also making them enjoyable for adults. Books that I've come across that fulfill this are Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians and China Mieville's Un-Lun-Dun. Something that I've noticed about these books that I like is the way that they play with kid "logic".

Just wondering if people have read other books along this vein...

tensai_oni
2012-01-21, 06:11 PM
The Graveyard Book, also by Neil Gaiman.
Terry Pratchett's Nation fits here too.

And there are of course classics like the Hobbit and the Little Prince.

Pokonic
2012-01-21, 06:11 PM
Artemis Fowl ? Fairies and super-smart pre-teen. Apperently, much better than what it sounds.

Tavar
2012-01-21, 07:34 PM
Abarat, especially after the first book.

Trouble for Trumpets, if only for the absolutely amazing illustrations.

Ravens_cry
2012-01-21, 09:38 PM
I actually like to go to the library and read picture books occasionally, both folklore and original stories. I just love the simple, direct language, it's easy rhythm. It is very calming. And the illustrations are works of art on their own. One example that stands out, one of my favourite stories period, and always one to choke me up is "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.
If you've read it, I hope you know what I mean.
Dr. Seuss is also worth reading at any age.

Fri
2012-01-21, 09:55 PM
other than things' been said here.

tales of desperaux and momo, or the grey gentlemen. It's more in the line of 'fairy tales that will makes adults think' thing, like little prince.

This is one of my favourite genre as well.

Sleverin
2012-01-22, 03:03 AM
Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass are books I've noticed that I've enjoyed more and more as an adult. There are a lot of dry British jokes throughout it, its rife with references to 1800's British life (surprise, surprise), and the second book is quite an exercise in trying to understand what is going on. There are also many a great plays on the English language, and of course, the interesting things like the poem about killing the Bandersnatch. People always tell me the book is just for children and hippies, but if you look past its child-like entertaining surface, you'll find some truly smart jokes.

Xondoure
2012-01-22, 03:07 AM
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett is very good. And Suzanne Collins has a couple series that play into very adult themes later on. (Gregor the Overlander, the Hunger Games.)

Anarion
2012-01-22, 03:16 AM
The Golden Compass and sequels (which arguably aren't written for children at all, but they were marketed as if they're young adult books).

The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Well done fantasy with lots of historical references and English culture.

hamishspence
2012-01-22, 07:57 AM
Robin Jarvis in general:

Deptford Mice/Deptford Histories- animal fiction similar to Redwall. Sometimes described as "the absinthe to Redwall's homemade lemonade"

Whitby Witches trilogy- invisible seashore-dwelling hobbits, witches, and Cthulhu-esque monsters

Wyrd Museum series- Norse mythology in a 20th century British setting.

thubby
2012-01-22, 10:19 AM
the narnia books spring to mind.

H Birchgrove
2012-01-22, 12:38 PM
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. (Can be said about several great classics.)

Stories or Fairy Tales from Bygone Eras by Charles Perrault.

The fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen.

Early comic books (Action Comics, Superman, Detective Comics, Batman etc).

Serpentine
2012-01-22, 02:40 PM
Well, my mum likes Tamora Pierce, and I still regularly read them...
I also still like reading picture books and the like.
Hmm... What about the Dinotopia books?
There are also many a great plays on the English language, and of course, the interesting things like the poem about killing the Bandersnatch.Oh dear. Oh deary deary dear. My goodness.

And as, in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood
And burbled as it came.

I expect you're particularly right about those books, though.

Britter
2012-01-22, 02:42 PM
Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes is an excellent book for everyone though it was aimed at middle-schoolish readers.

Tirian
2012-01-22, 03:58 PM
Dr. Seuss is also worth reading at any age.

I haven't found this to be the case. The drawings remain charming, but as an adult I find his protagonists to be largely jerks, his victims to be largely spineless, and his morals to be universally anvilicious. It's not like I want to take his books off the shelf, but I don't think he reaches beyond the primary audience.

In addition to many of the preceding, I will also throw in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth, which has an engaging and relevant story for youth and an unceasing supply of puns and extended metaphors for adults. Also, even though it is probably not quite what the OP had in mind, the reigning champion of childrens text to adult subtext ever likely to be accomplished is Jon Stone's The Monster at the End of this Book.

snoopy13a
2012-01-22, 04:09 PM
The Wind in the Wind Willows perhaps?

A Wrinkle in Time?

As a whole though, these books are relatively rare. Most children's books are of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Babysitters' Club variety. Good if you're 11 or 12, but insipid if you aren't.

thubby
2012-01-22, 06:02 PM
the giving tree.

i defy you not to feel for that tree.

warty goblin
2012-01-22, 06:19 PM
I haven't found this to be the case. The drawings remain charming, but as an adult I find his protagonists to be largely jerks, his victims to be largely spineless, and his morals to be universally anvilicious. It's not like I want to take his books off the shelf, but I don't think he reaches beyond the primary audience.
Some yes, some no. The King's Stilts I find remains delightful.

And while not a children's book per say, I find Calvin and Hobbes improves with age, which is saying something as I loved Watterson's work when I was a kid.

Watership Down falls into this category as well. Come for the narrative, stay for the prose.

Some of the early Redwall books may also qualify. The first few are, I find, much better written than those that followed. They won't be superb adult reads, but you could certainly do worse pulling from actual adult lit.

Partysan
2012-01-22, 08:38 PM
I'm very partial to Astrid Lindgren in that regard. Many of her stories are truly age- and timeless. Somewhat.

Ravens_cry
2012-01-22, 09:54 PM
The Wind in the Wind Willows perhaps?

Oh my yes, those characters were, and still are, roguishly likeable. Hang spring cleaning, indeed!

A Wrinkle in Time?

Ooh, almost certainly. It's been a while since I read it, but it was beautiful.

Archpaladin Zousha
2012-01-22, 10:06 PM
Well, my mum likes Tamora Pierce, and I still regularly read them...
My sister's in college and she's still a big fan of Pierce. I think she even got Tamora Pierce to friend her on Facebook or Twitter or something.

One could argue that Tolkien's classic, The Hobbit, falls under this category, as it was basically Tolkien writing his own fairy story...and then things snowballed from there and the rest is history.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2012-01-22, 11:41 PM
The Miraculous Adventure of Edward Tulane. I love that book to pieces.

warty goblin
2012-01-23, 12:04 AM
My sister's in college and she's still a big fan of Pierce. I think she even got Tamora Pierce to friend her on Facebook or Twitter or something.

One could argue that Tolkien's classic, The Hobbit, falls under this category, as it was basically Tolkien writing his own fairy story...and then things snowballed from there and the rest is history.

You know, I reread the first Alanna book a couple months ago, and I'm in grad school. It held up pretty well too, the writing's not exactly super sophisticated but is always decent, the narrative's still enjoyable, and the characters pretty good.

The bit where it was only 150 pages kinda took me by surprise, I remember it being a long book. Of course I first read it when I was ten or something, so that probably contributes.

And depending on the vocabulary and patience of the child in question, pretty much all of Tolkien is excellent. The Silmarillion's the hardest, but I think I made it through that by the time I was fifteen.

RabbitHoleLost
2012-01-23, 12:08 AM
the giving tree.

i defy you not to feel for that tree.

Or anything by Shel Silverstein, actually. Especially The Missing Piece, and its "moral"

Vacant
2012-01-23, 01:54 AM
Pullman's Clockwork is definitely a children's book that's not just for children. It's also vastly superior to the more famous Dark Materials books, if you ask me. I'll second Wind in the Willows, the Wrinkle in Time books, and most of all The Little Prince.

H Birchgrove
2012-01-23, 02:37 PM
Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile SF novels.

Traab
2012-01-23, 03:17 PM
You know, if you had switched around the words "not just" in your title, this would be one hell of an interesting topic. :smalltongue:

Vacant
2012-01-24, 02:52 AM
Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile SF novels.

Ooooh, yeah, good point. Red Planet was probably rather seminal in making an angry young anarchist of me. Aside from goofy fiftiesisms I didn't really notice as a kid, it really stood up when I re-read it later.

H Birchgrove
2012-01-24, 06:43 AM
You know, if you had switched around the words "not just" in your title, this would be one hell of an interesting topic. :smalltongue:
I'd like to have discussion about what books for adults are okay for children (with or without discussions about Values Dissonance in the classics). :smallsmile::smallamused:


Ooooh, yeah, good point. Red Planet was probably rather seminal in making an angry young anarchist of me. Aside from goofy fiftiesisms I didn't really notice as a kid, it really stood up when I re-read it later.
I've read Citizen of the Galaxy, it raised quite a few interesting topics. At least some of Heinlein's books should be in the canon for teens. :smallsmile:

Ravens_cry
2012-01-24, 06:56 AM
As long as the subject matter isn't too explicitly adult, I'd say just about anything a kid can read, they should be allowed to read.
I only learned to read at age seven, but had a grade nine reading comprehension by age eight and kept going.
When I had questions, I asked. When I didn't know what a word meant, I either worked it out by context or looked it up in the dictionary.
I had a joy in the written word I hold to this day.

Totally Guy
2012-01-24, 07:10 AM
The next book on my list of reading is The Little Prince. I hope I'm not going to be disappointed as I've heard good things about it.

Traab
2012-01-24, 08:52 AM
As long as the subject matter isn't too explicitly adult, I'd say just about anything a kid can read, they should be allowed to read.
I only learned to read at age seven, but had a grade nine reading comprehension by age eight and kept going.
When I had questions, I asked. When I didn't know what a word meant, I either worked it out by context or looked it up in the dictionary.
I had a joy in the written word I hold to this day.

I agree, I was reading anything and everything I could get my hands on as a kid. By trying to understand what I was reading id learn and grow that much more. Reading the cat in the hat is fine and all, but it wont really stretch a kids mind very much. Giving him books like a wrinkle in time, books that use bigger words, and have meanings in them for the kids to figure out means they will finish the book with that much more of an improvement in their reading and comprehension. I still remember a couple decades back, reading a book where a character was called a disreputable tatterdemalion. I spent DAYS trying to track down the meaning of that phrase. (no internet for me back then) And I felt one hell of a sense of accomplishment when I finally figured it out. Same for verisimilitude, though I found that definition faster. Not bad for a 4th grader. :smalltongue:

Ravens_cry
2012-01-24, 11:25 AM
I still remember a couple decades back, reading a book where a character was called a disreputable tatterdemalion. I spent DAYS trying to track down the meaning of that phrase. (no internet for me back then) And I felt one hell of a sense of accomplishment when I finally figured it out. Same for verisimilitude, though I found that definition faster. Not bad for a 4th grader. :smalltongue:
You know, I think I remember that phrase from somewhere; just where is it from again?

Traab
2012-01-24, 11:35 AM
You know, I think I remember that phrase from somewhere; just where is it from again?

It was in one of the Ghostworld series by Barbara and Scott Siegel. Basically this ghost teen named Elizabeth dragged a living boy named Andy Moser into ghostworld and they spend like 6 books (fairly short ones, the last is a whopping 150 pages long) trying to get him back to the living world, and saving ghostworld from all sorts of bad things. The afterlife is basically an unimaginably long river where ghosts roam up and down the banks. Dont go in the water though, or you will get pulled in by ghoulish people like the river styx and be stuck there till you can trap someone else.

*EDIT* Only reason i know this much is I was actually able to find the last one in my storage book case. Poor book looks like its been through a war. I wasnt very considerate of my books as a kid.

EccentricCircle
2012-01-24, 12:52 PM
Mortal Engines et al by Phillip Reeve

Triscuitable
2012-01-26, 11:27 PM
1937 spoilers below!

Out of the cruel reality for dying puppies, broken-necked wives, dead mentally-disabled people, and unfufilled wishes, I recommend Of Mice and Men. No really, I read that when I was 7.