Books that you read – or were read to you – when you were a child, stay with you on some level. They become a part of you. If you take a moment to recall your bedtime picture books, you'll be surprised by what you remember. Things you never truly forgot but which had left your thoughts.
It's the books that you still think about at night when you fall asleep that are just like the stories that sent you to bed as a child. I don't mean a "book so boring that it put me to sleep" but a book that your mind is mulling over until you are swept into unconsciousness without even knowing it. There is a buzz inside your mind, and in that Peter Pan moment between sleeping and being awake, those are the books that stay with you no matter what age you read them at.
I'm reading a lot of young adult novels at the moment because it is just booming and there are so many good books with interesting premises coming out for that target audience. The way I see it, a good book is a good book is a good book, no matter who "should" be reading it. I would still be able to get a good kick out of the picture books I was read as a child, not only for nostalgic reasons but because I believe that it is good writing. If an adult wrote a good book, why shouldn't another adult be able to enjoy it just because children do?
The interesting thing for me is that as a young'n – I'm talking childhood through to all my teens – I had no attention span for reading. I always liked reading, and I liked stories and writing and books, but I wasn't very well read because I wasn't a fast reader and I didn't absorb the stories very well.
The exception for me was Harry Potter. My mum bought me the first three books and read me the first chapter of the Philosopher’s Stone. Then she said it was up to me to go on. I was nine. I lay in bed, trying to read, but it was late and I fell into a land of dreams. Later, I vaguely recalled something about a boy sleeping under the stairs, he himself also dreaming...but I thought that was all it had been. A lingering dream.
It wasn't until the Goblet of Fire was released and there was the huge hype around it, with people camping outside of stores in their sleeping bags, that I took notice of it again. There was an interview with J.K. Rowling on TV, and while it played in the background I decided to pick up my copy of the Philosopher’s Stone.
After Harry Potter, I began to read more. Even so, I didn't always absorb the stories very well, except in the cases of Tamora Pierce's Alanna, or Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci books. One day soon I will have to re-read the first few Artemis Fowl novels because I swear they slipped through my brain and left an itch of a memory.
Harry Potter stuck with me, but it wasn't until my late teens/after I had escaped high school, that I tried to be a more active reader. Now I feel that I take in so much and understand a lot more, both as a reader and a writer. I feel that I am getting the opportunity with young adult novels that I didn't have during those brain-slippage years. I am definitely not too old for young adult, middle-grade or picture books, nor will I ever be. Why? Because a good book is a good book is a good book.
So the next time I pass The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Giving Tree or Corduroy Bear in a store, I'll try to stop and remember...because these books still ripple under my skin, lingering in my dreams, locked away in Peter Pan's memories.