Had a fun conversation with someone the other day that got me to thinking. We were discussing the fact that we both get sent a lot of children’s books to read. Some are solicited by their authors/editors/agents and others just arrive in boxes that come from publishers. A person can have a whole individualized set of criteria regarding the order of the books they read. For example, I like to alternate books that have already been published with books that are going to be published.
There are some books, however, that I find myself avoiding. Sometimes I don’t even notice that I am avoiding those books, unless someone points it out to me. That’s what happened the other day when the conversation between my friend and myself turned to the most dangerous form of children’s literature I can name: animal stories.
When I say “animal stories” I usually mean books in the vein of Charlotte’s Web. Stories where animals act like animals but can talk. And though I wasn’t aware of it before, I find that unless I have a reason to do so, I tend to avoid animal stories. When they’re done well they can be brilliant (The Underneath, the aforementioned Charlotte’s Web, etc.). When they’re done poorly they may be the most painful fiction for kids out there. I don’t know why it is, but there you go. That’s my bugaboo.
So let’s have it. Is there a particular type of children’s fiction that you find yourself avoiding when you consider large swaths of children’s books?