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The Choice of Literature

The Original French Version HERE - The English version has been translated by Jon-Michael McLean


The access to reading is a construction zone which will never reach completion and the issue of illiteracy, the distancing of certain audiences of books, deserves our concentrated efforts of mending. It is, however, work that has largely progressed.


Those who today are grandparents at times met with obstacles to their appetite for reading (« It’s a waste of time », they were told), and young people are now confronted with a generalized injunction, emanating from the whole of society, saying « one must read ». Nowadays, apart from rare exceptions, parents are massively convinced of the importance of reading – even if it is for focused reasons : success at school. Places to read have been greatly developed these past decades, books for youth and children have entered into school curriculums, and the question of the pleasure of reading is widely shared, even if it is sometimes dominated by those who are affiliated with the cult of entertainment.


Consequently, it is perhaps time to undertake a new work site, that of literature. And this site is immense. But if bestseller lists are to be believed, we could even doubt its existence. Contrary to cinema, comic books, novels, the works of authors are rather rare in successful children's book publications. When it comes to books addressed to young readers, literature frightens even more. Speak of « literature for youth » (and not of « children's books ») to a parent, and they will look you up and down, horrified that you would wish to have their 4-year-old read Victor Hugo !


Literature scares, because it remains sanctified. But also because we don't imagine children being capable of accessing it. Elitist, overly complex, as we often hear reproached of rich and accomplished picture books. And yet, whoever has had this experience of literature alongside young readers knows that these books, certainly very elaborate, touch children infinitely, as they are sensitive to their aesthetic or to their enchanting writing. What's more, their complexity offers a salutary echo of the world in which they evolve, necessarily complex for them.


Children's worries are vast, and so literature is the only space that offers them an intimate comprehension and opening onto the world, helping them to understand their future and to forge their identity. Those possessing a minimum of perspicacity and honesty towards themselves know that childhood is not a territory exempt of all shadow, as yet one might believe upon reading an overwhelming majority of children's books.


That is where the force of literature resides, in the echo it can give give to child readers if their turpitudes, of their difficulty recognising themselves in the very image of themselves, truncated, that society reflects back to them.


Since it is a place of questioning and of beauty, children have a vital need of literature. There's a chance, production is brimming with these creative picture books which provide exceptional opportunities for children to meet with books that – and it’s as simple as this – will be able to touch them.

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