WHAT EUROPEAN CHILDREN’S BOOKS CAN TEACH US, AS OUR BOOKS SUCK
I have always loved kid’s books, even in adulthood. But our American books pale in comparison to the quietly progressive books being published in Europe. Children’s literature is a beautiful thing. I buy new children’s books all the time, even now, and I am a fully grown woman with no children. The thing is, they always teach me something new about myself because they look through the eyes of a child, which are more open to learning new things than adult eyes are. I see more about the world around me too. I see things as being wondrous because I, my child-like self at least, am for a moment full of wonder. US children deserve better quality books, just like European kids.
QUALITY EUROPEAN BOOKS PORTRAY THE EVERYDAY MUNDANE AS BEAUTIFUL
It turns out, however, that even my beloved “Little Blue and Little Yellow,” or “The Missing Piece,” or “The Giving Tree” do not stand up to the glory of what is going on in children’s literature in Europe. At this very moment children are reading books that portray everyday life as a beautiful series of mundane, yet important actions. People ride the tram together, a pregnant woman visits her midwife, a young couple sunbath in the nude. These are quality stories great for kids.
US BOOKS DON’T OFFER STORY LINES WITH DEPTH IN EVERY SCENE FOR US CHILDREN
These are all snippets of life; small moments captured for a moment in a wordless, yet vibrant, world. These new books are not linear, they do not tell stories like our books do here in America. They show life as life is there. They remind me of the “Where’s Waldo” book series, but much less didactic. Their pages are filled with people, things, animals, moments, and it can take weeks to fully investigate every scene. And then stories can be told and retold in a myriad of ways.
THE BEST STORIES NEVER GET OLD, US CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER STORIES
There is no one story meant to be read over and over again in the same way. There are millions of stories, constantly unfolding, constantly returning, constantly changing. Which means the books never lose their luster. They never get old because there are always more stories to tell. They also show us a model of peaceful co-habitation on this planet that children need to see. So if they don’t see people living calmly side-by-side how will they ever know it’s possible?