As guilty pleasures go, making time to read shouldn’t make you feel all that guilty. When it comes to adults reading children’s books, however, the embarrassment and guilt seem to really kick in, and I’m honestly amazed! Children’s literature has gotten very savvy, covering a wide range of genres. If you haven’t perused the kid’s aisle at your local bookstore, you are really missing out on some gems. Children’s literature is a booming business with big names like James Patterson joining the ranks of kids book authors. As an adult, I have always enjoyed reading kids books, and not just because my kids were reading them, or because I was a bookseller. Kids books are fun to read because they jump right into the story lines, and have strong lead characters of both sexes and varying nationalities, backgrounds, and circumstances. If you haven’t yet made the foray into kids books, here are a few series to get your feet wet. I guarantee that once you start down this path, you will return again and again for the immense pleasure it brings. No guilt required.
It’s an older series, but I really love Scott Mebus’ “Gods of Manhattan” trilogy. Rory is a 13-year-old kid growing up in New York with the gift of being able to see what others don’t. A magician shows him the coexistence of a world called Mannahatta, a place ruled by weird creatures and immortals like Alexander Hamilton. Full of action and adventure, with the tie-in of real historical figures makes this series action-packed and entertaining.
Author Ridley Pearson got his start in adult fiction writing amazing suspense novels that I really love. Then, I discovered his series for kids, “Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark.” There are seven books in the original series and it was so successful that the author spun off a second, related series that now has three books in it to date. This series features five teenagers who become holographic theme park guides at Walt Disney World. There’s a glitch, however, and the kids soon discover that those Disney villains are real – and they intend to take over. If you are a fan of the TV series “Once Upon A Time,” or just love anything Disney, then this book series is for you!
Speaking of adult fiction authors making the move into children’s literature; David Baldacci’s fantasy series featuring a young, strong heroine named Vega Jane, is a must-read. In the first book in the series, “The Finisher,” the residents of Wormwood are all sequestered in their town, surrounded by a wall that they are told they cannot cross over or they will be at the mercy of fearsome creatures and surely perish. Vega Jane actually watches a neighbor escape the town, thus bringing into question everything she knows about her corner of the world, the other residents, and the people designated to keep them all safe. Vega Jane challenges authority and pushes limits, making her adventure very rewarding for the reader. If you enjoyed the Harry Potter series, you will definitely enjoy this one as well.
“Sylo” is the first book in an action-packed series by DJ MacHale. This book was definitely targeted at boys given its fast-paced, thrill-ride approach with military helicopters, paratroopers, and a deadly virus. The story revolves around a group of kids living in a bucolic island community off the coast of Maine. When the military moves in, quarantining the island’s residents and claiming that the residents have been exposed to a deadly virus, these kids begin to question if that is really what the quarantine is about; given that they are not allowed to communicate at all with anyone on the mainland. When there is an unexplained explosion over the ocean in the middle of the night, these kids must decide who to believe…and who to trust.
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are two of my favorite YA authors. They have a series for kids as well, and this one is another surefire hit for fans of Harry, Hermione, and Ronald Weasley as it is full of magic, mystery, and adventure. The first book in the series is “The Iron Trial.” Most kids come from families that don’t want them to fail the tests to pass the Iron Trial and move forward with their magical training at the Magisterium. That isn’t the case, however, for Callum Hunt; his father has reasons for wanting his son to fail and Callum is more than happy to oblige and avoid the perils of magic altogether – magic is directly responsible for the death of his mother. Try as he might, though, he cannot escape his fate as his magic is so powerful that there is no way he can fail. Callum must face his fears and the biggest test of his young life.