Genre Is It?
Families reading together, a good thing, right? Methinks
all would agree that families reading together is something we,
as a society, should encourage. Because families reading together
is really about families spending time together, learning from
one another, learning about one another. That’s a good
can imagine my surprise when I found out that my happy little
fairytale, written specifically for families to read together,
is considered by the book industry (bookstores, agents and publishers)
to be lacking a focused genre. Turns out there is no genre for
families reading together.
may be a surprise to the people who buy books from family sections
of bookstores. Yes, there are family sections, and family books,
but those books are aimed at specific readers, such as, boys
age ten to thirteen, or girls age seven to nine. If families
read these books together, the adults are expected to accept
that they are reading a child’s book, and younger children,
too young to understand, are supposed to stay quiet.
books do not engage readers outside the target audience, and
they are specifically designed not to. If they do not exclude
readers outside the target audience, they are said by the book
industry to lack a focused audience, and also to lack a genre.
what about Alice in Wonderland? What about Peter Pan? What about
The Little Prince? All these books use simple language to convey
extremely complex ideas, many of which can’t possibly be
understood by a child reading alone.
so, children do read them, because there is a lot in those books
to entertain children. Teenagers can read them, experiencing
an entirely new story because they understand the world better
then children. Adults can read these books, engaging with them
on a conceptual level that most teenagers never could. Three
readings, at three different times in a single person’s
life, can yield three different stories, all a joy to read.
a family of varying age, reading these books together, can enjoy
the story, simultaneously, on several different levels. On top
of that, aged members of the family can hear the story again,
not only enjoying it in a new way, but enjoying the experience
of watching the younger members of the family embark on new understanding.
best part is, and this is key, as children grasp at ideas they
can’t understand, older members of the family can explain
it to them. This is communication, discussion, interaction. This
is why these stories are so important, because they bring families
together as nothing else can.
isn’t just an issue for families; it’s an issue for
mankind. Humanity seems crippled by disinterest. We’re
disinterested because we consume media alongside people, but
never WITH people. We never talk about it, we never engage it.
We learned this habit in childhood. It’s not a natural
state, so it’s easy to break, all we have to do is share.
All we have to do is read together, as a family.
does the book industry discourage this kind of story? Because
it’s easier to market books for more specific genres. That’s
it, that’s really it, that’s the only reason. It’s
easier and we, as a society, have accepted it. We don’t
even see the difference anymore. We see pop culture references
from twenty years ago in children’s stories as a nod to
adults, and believe that’s enough. The book (and movie)
industry is this way because we haven’t told them what
we want, depth.
not only in the story, but depth in the interaction and discussion
we share with our children. Not the depth of explaining to children
what a Beach Boys song is, but the depth of explaining the inequalities
of wealth, and where these inequalities come from. The depth
of explaining where cruelty comes from, and what our responsibilities
are as members of the human community.
want to understand these things, they’re forming
ideas already. If there is one great injustice inflicted upon
children, it is that adults expect them to be ignorant. Only
give a child access to ideas and opportunity for curiosity, and
the roads they create with youth and knowledge can lead to wisdom
adults can’t imagine.
way to do that, and possibly the only way to do that, is to share
the experience of life with children. The best way is to read
with them, read books designed for the whole family to enjoy.
this we need books designed to engage adults and children, books
with the genre of Family. A few already exist, like
Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and The Little Prince. How do
we get more?
#1) Talk to our families about it. What do they think?
#2) Talk to our friends about it. What do they think?
#3) Talk to our friends about it. I’m serious. The only
way people change things is by talking to their friends. Your
friends need to know you think this is a good idea. Your friends
need to consider it themselves. Only then will they talk to their friends,
and spread the word.
#4) Buy the Sir Thomas book. At this point I’m ready to
give the book away, because I think it’s important to show
the world that this genre is possible, and good, and important.
Unfortunately I’m not over endowed with time or money so
I can’t afford to give them away, but they’re cheap,
which is as close as I can get.
#5) Harass your local bookstores, tell them you want this. Call
and write and talk to the manager in person. They won’t
know you want it unless you tell them.
#6) Write one yourself! Why not? If it’s a new genre it’ll
need more material!
this is a revolution, a revolution of mind. If you think this
is a good idea, think of yourself as a revolutionary, because
sadly, you are. There’s no way to get people to see it
unless you show it to them. It begins with you, and only you
can make it happen.
HERE to read chapter 1.
Click HERE to read chapter 2.
Click HERE to read chapter 3.
Click HERE to see an illustration.