Good Books for Bad Kids (and sometimes Big Kids)

One of my favorite editors in history is Ursula Nordstrom.  She was a woman who changed how children’s books were viewed, and published.  Ursula’s special mark was refusing to march to the beat of the figurative drum, by doing things HER own way.  That is why readers are fortunate enough to know of Maurice Sendak, and many other authors of notable respect.  

One of Ursula’s main goals was to publish “good books for bad kids.” Ultimately the reasoning for this was to get those non-readers, those children who can’t sit down long enough to focus on a good story, to actually fall in love with reading.  Also to get away from the practice of didactic books, where the author tells the children what to do, because it’s a “good” thing.   

In an odd way, I am of the belief that we need to do the same for “big kid” readers, a.k.a. adults.  I’m not advocating bad books.  I’m advocating that we publish books that are interesting, with a good narrative, and that will rope in all the folks who seem to have the same issue loving books, especially during adulthood.   I’m not leaning toward sensational books either.  This is a simple statement that publishers should open their doors to new, quirky, sometimes less-than-mainstream titles vs. staying with “same old, same old” books. 

There is a reason why “The Zombie Survival Guide” became a best-seller.  It was smart, unique, and appealed to an entirely new set of potential readers.   It may not win the Nobel Peace Prize, but “The Zombie Survival Guide” won the attention of consumers.  In this day and age, it’s nice to have such success for less mainstream books.

As October rolls in, look at the movie theatres, you will see several movies based on books; including  one based on a YA Novel by Shauna Cross, titled “Derby Girl” and the other known as the beloved “Where the Wild Things Are.”   Apparently the film industry is in agreement, by taking such exciting risks, and realizing there is an audience for these movies. 

That ‘s why I will always admire Ursulsa Nordstorm, and why I’ll allway be on this figurative train; as I believe the more people who love reading = a more successful and long-lasting publishing industry.