Monday, December 05, 2005
I am not exactly sure what Edward Rothstein is saying in his column in today's New York Times, "Reading Kids' Books without the Kids." He begins with a rather easy poke at YA fiction, true enough as far as it goes but failing to recognize either YA's breadth or its origins. He has a very nice paragraph on the role of the parent in reading aloud Where the Wild Things Are, but goes on to make rather too much of the role of parents in childhood reading, ignoring the fact that one of the great things about reading is that it allows you to forget that you actually have parents and can begin to stake out an imaginative life of your own. His ultimate point has to do with the new Norton Anthology of Children's Literature (which is also reviewed in the paper today) and how the academic shape and context of the book somehow misrepresent the literature in a way that does not happen in a Norton Anthology of Something Else. I think he might be saying that scholars of children's literature read children's books differently from children, and that YA pulp isn't as good as Alice in Wonderland, neither of which observation is untrue, original, or useful.