Why adults read children’s books

January 17, 2023

I just finished reading a teen book from 2018, “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khor­ram. Darius lives in Portland, OR. His mother is Iranian and his father is “Teutonic,” but Darius doesn’t feel like he belongs to either culture. He is struggling to make friends at school and also to connect with his father. The things that are easy for Darius are tea and Star Trek. When his grandfather in Iran becomes ill, Darius’ family travels to spend some time with his mom’s family in Yazd, Iran. 

I love to learn things, and this book had me on my phone pulling up images of various places in the Yazd area as well as reading up on Zoroastrianism and Baha’i. I learned about tea and a lot of different Iranian food dishes too. I love the crunchy rice you can order at some restaurants, but I didn’t know what it was called or how to make it. When I read this book I learned it is called ‘tah dig,’ and I found a recipe online. I also plan to try ‘sekanjabin,’ a minty drink which can also be used as a dip for lettuce leaves.

Darius worries about being able to communicate with his family in Iran, and what it will be like to meet his grandparents in person for the first time at age 14. He finds connections with his grandparents as well as finding a hidden talent. He even makes a friend.

“’Everyone wants you here. We have a saying in Farsi. It translates ‘your place was empty.’ We say it when we miss somebody.’

I sniffed.

‘Your place was empty before. But this is your family. You belong here.’”

A couple of our adult patrons are big fans of childrens’ books.  I asked each of them why they read childrens’ and teen books. Both of them are retired teachers.

“In a well written children’s book, you always learn something. Authors make it a point to write information into books that are part of the story. Something that doesn’t feel like learning, so you absorb information in an easy way that doesn’t feel like a schoolbook.” 

My second reader said when she was a teacher, she read a lot of picture books and she felt like she missed out by not reading many chapter books at this time. She likes the historical aspect of many children’s books.”They are good, with good morals and they’re often funny. What more can you ask for? Kids build friendships and do adventurous things.”This reader looks for a catchy title, but also takes recommendations. She also mentioned that she isn’t up for reading a 500 page book any more when she can read a good story in two or three hours.

“Darius the Great” hit all of the points these readers brought up. I learned about Iranian culture, religions, food and some history too. Travel to another country is always an adventure, and Darius made a close friend while in Yazd.

Reading children’s books isn’t a sign you aren’t a serious reader- a good book is a good book. If you want to try out a teen book, I would recommend “Darius the Great is Not Okay,” located in the teen section of the Gering Library. Most of the children’s book award winners including the Newbery Award, and the Golden Sower selections are well-written and interesting. In the children’s section I recommend “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly.

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