At our little small-town library in Columbia, TN, the children’s area delightfully encompasses the entire basement. It’s all warm and carpeted and vintage-feeling down there, with aisles of classic books and plenty of copies of titles I often can’t find at other local libraries. I feel myself exhale when I walk down the stairs and see my girls run ahead of me to go off exploring the shelves.
Over the last year or so, I’ve found myself browsing the juvenile literature section, not to choose books for my children, but for myself. When I say “juvenile literature,” I’m gravitating more towards the books for middle grades (ages 8-13) rather than the older young adult (YA) titles (for a great list of those, check out this post). Finding myself at home in this section of the library has opened up a whole new world of reading that’s perfect for me in multiple ways. So I thought I’d share them with you…
3 Reasons Why I Love Juvenile Literature:
There’s less heaviness, but still great, deep story lines. I’m definitely a Highly Sensitive Person - things affect me deeply, like too much violence in books or movies. But I don’t want to just read fluff, either. I love how Juvenile Literature still contains real-life struggles and situations but without the violence, sexuality, or intensity that can be found in adult literature.
I can preview books for my children. My oldest daughter is 8, so she’s at the very beginning of being able to jump into middle grade literature, but I feel she’s still too young for the storylines in several of these books. No need to rush into more mature storylines! By reading them first, I not only get some truly enjoyable reading time, but I know the content so I can recommend them to her when the time is right.
It makes me feel 10 again. I can still remember the smell of the Madison Public Library that was a second home to me in my hometown of Madison, NJ. Before the over-protective days we currently live in, my mom would drop me off at the entrance in her Trans-Am (because New Jersey in the 80s…), and I was free to stay there all day, by myself or with friends, until I called her using the payphone to come pick me up. There was the quiet hum of the librarian’s ancient computer, the smell of printer ink and the microfiche machines, the clunk of patrons opening and closing the wooden card catalog drawers. I would spread out solo at one of the large tables for six and then go searching the shelves for one of my favorites, like a book from the Sisters series by Marilyn Kaye (any other children of the 80s remember these?!), the latest Babysitters Club title, or Tough Luck Karen by Johana Hurwitz. With the freedom and time to enter these new worlds through books, I worked out my own self and began to develop a picture of my developing identity.
Here are some of my favorite juvenile literature titles I’ve read over the last few years:
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
The Magic Summer by Noel Streatfeild
Here are some titles on my “to be read” list:
The Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood
The Dollmaker of Krakow by R.M. Romero
Eventown by Corey Ann Haydu
The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart
Wildwood series by Colin Meloy
Whew! Mamas’s got some reading to do.
Do you have any juvenile literature titles to add to my list? I’d love to hear! Also, I’d love to see you on Instagram - follow my hashtag #whatstineisreading for some reading happiness (there’s usually a good frothy latté picture to go with it!).