Monday, April 26, 2010

Children's Books & Open Letter

Today, Esi Sogah blogged about a trip down memory lane into her reading and love of reading as a child. My reply on her blog was so long, I thought I'd pop it on here to share with you.

Betsy Tacy image copyrighted by HarperCollinsEsi has a picture of the first Betsy-Tacy book on her post. What a conincidence that because of a recommendation from Ammanda McCabe, I have the same Betsy-Tacy book waiting for pick-up at the library for my daughter. I'm so excited for her to start reading it.

Junie B. Jones Dumb Bunny image copyrighted by Random House KidsCat in the Hat Dr. Seuss image copyrighted by Seuss DudeThanks to my daughter, I've the read the following chapter book series: Junie B. Jones, Amanda Pig, Magic Treehouse, Fairy series, Princess Ellie, and Arthur. Dr. Seuss was instrumental in getting her interested in reading, and the Junie B. Jones character by Barbara Park for chapter books.

My childhood reading was in two distinct parts: books I loved and books I was forced to read.

In the first category were: Enid Blyton (love, love, LOVE), Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, lots of European boarding school books in translation, folk stories in translation, the original science fiction, Russian science fiction in translation, Georgette Heyer, category romance novels (sneaked between covers of textbooks), mysteries, Romantic poets, and daily newspapers.

In the second category were The Classics. This second category is the one that was a surprising discovery. Some were god-awful-borrrring, but there were delightful, engrossing, vocabulary-expanding ones, too. My favorites ones I read in all formats, from easy reading versions to fully unabridged ginormous tomes: Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Jane Austen, and Alcott; the worst were the tumescent Russians (bitch, moan, groan). As I mentioned to Esi, The Force To Read was a maternal one, not of a scholastic (from school) nature.

What were your favorites books as a child? Was there a summer holiday required reading list for you when you were a child? Or were you allowed to visit the library and withdraw any book you wanted so long as you brought a book home and read it?

* * *

Open Letter to Children's Book Publishers:

Due to budget constraints, lack of trained professionals, and myriad perfectly valid reasons I'm not aware of, copyediting and proofreading of books is getting short shrift from the publishing industry these days. With adult books, it's can be an annoyance, but it's a livable issue.

Where children's books are concerned, it's a serious problem. Children are absorbing rules of grammar, writing styles, and word usage from everything they read. Poorly punctuated sentences that are causing even the very young readers to stumble as they read aloud are an atrocity.

It behooves publishers to pay good money for experienced editors for every children's book they publish. While a publisher is not a charity organization, educating our young is like a paying-it-forward public service.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.