Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Books of OUR Childhood

Today's Guardian bookblog features one of those books-were-better-in-my-childhood posts. In this entry, Peter Bradshaw misses the bloodier dinosaur books of his childhood. If you read the post thoroughly, however, you realize two things:
  • He's comparing apples to oranges. Dinosaur Roar!, while a charming book in my opinion (I especially like the last two lines), is NOT a dinosaur book. It's a toddler book.
  • As a new parent, Bradshaw is not recognizing the obvious. He orders his favorite dinosaur book from childhood and writes, "What an extraordinary experience it was. Ordering up a fragment of your past, your memory-- and seeing it plop through your letterbox in a jiffy bag. And yes, it really is a fantastic book, because of its outrageously non-PC emphasis on how carnivore dinosaurs were really good at fighting, how they loved ripping each other limb from scaly limb." It's not the book that's so fantastic, it's your own childhood returning to you that blows the mind.

As a more jaded parent myself and one who's read thousands of children's books, what I've found is that only a few can survive generation to generation. Each generation of children has its own needs and its own interests. And, each generation has plenty of great books at its disposal.

In fiction, global and religious issues are more important now than they were when I was a child, for example. And, frankly, they should be. Global and religious conflict is what our children face now. Non fiction should, in fact, incorporate scientific discoveries and advancement, even if the result is less bloody than the renderings of 30 years ago. Dinosaurs certainly can't help the fact that more were herbivores than previously thought.