(photo from the George Eastman House Collection)
After my post of last week about kids and books and comics, you may be asking yourself: but what about the books that don't help kids to deal with abuse or loss and also the Holocaust? If they are not actively demonstrating their worth in such obvious ways, perhaps they should be removed?
The answer to that is no.
Here are three reasons by way of elaboration.
1. Reading, it turns out, has other benefits besides that educating small children about terrible things! It also teaches them how to read — and provides the building blocks for learning how to write. The more kids read, the better their vocabulary gets, the better they get at reading, and the better they are at communicating in general — which comes in handy in life outside of books. And that's the case whether they're reading the silly Sideways Stories from Wayside School or the serious Where the Red Fern Grows or the non-fiction Evolution.
2. We've done studies; it turns out that reading is fun in and of itself. Don't believe me? Go now and read Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs; you'll be converted to the gospel of reading for fun in no time flat. Kids deserve that kind of fun, too! And they can have it in books like Whales on Stilts, ABC3D, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, and Bad Kitty Gets a Bath — even though there's not a single Holocaust amongst them.
3. This is the crass and commercial reason, so be warned. First Second is a publisher; the way we earn money is to publish books that people then buy and read. Without that audience, we wouldn't exist. (Luckily, we are doing quite well as yet — thank you, audience.) So we're very much in favor of kids reading things and enjoying them and growing up to be readers all their lives and continuing to buy books for themselves and also their friends and kids and friends' kids ad infinitum. No numbers on this, but is seems a pretty obvious transitive to say that if kids enjoy reading books whilst being kids, they will be more likely to continue to enjoy reading when they are grown up — which means that the publishing industry continues to exist, and that we get to publish interesting and important and fun books by our favorite creators, who continue to get paid.
Also: everybody reads! That is an excellent thing, too.