Publishers Offering More Kid Versions of Grown Up Books

omnivores dilemma, childrens books

Look close -- it's the version for kids.

I’m not the kind of mom who thinks everything has to be made kid-friendly for kids to enjoy. I’m not into kiddie tables or mini-recliners or special pig-themed dishes made of plastic just for my kids. On the one hand, I hate the extra expense for something that they will undoubtedly outgrow. That stuff also takes up too much extra space.

I also am reluctant to clearly define things, objects, as specially for kids (or tween or teens), especially when the grown-up version is completely functional. I hate feeling like I’m getting swindled by marketers.

Yet … I love this new trend in publishing, which is to release kid-versions of some notable adult titles.

A Los Angeles Times report on the trend lists a couple of new ones, mostly biographies or memoirs of sports heroes like Hope Solo, Tim Tebow, and  Eric LeGrand. But there are others like Fast Food Nation, which was re-written for tween readers and released under the title Chew On This. Fast Food Nation was a great book with really interesting details but also a lot of data and studies that, packed too densely, could lose the younger readers. The new version, like many of the others, have, as the LA Times describes them, fewer pages, larger type and smaller price tags. Win!

A couple of years ago, my daughter got the kid version of Michael Pollen’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. And her school has used the kid version of Howard Zinn‘s a People’s History of the United States for the middle-schoolers.

A lot of non-fiction, in particular, lends itself to getting kidified and I’ve often wished there were slightly simplified version of Oliver Sacks’s work out there. The famous neurologist’s essays are fascinating and really fun to read about — and make for fascinating conversations — but sometimes the vocabulary can be a bit much to wade through for a still easily wandering mind.

Of course, not every book meant for grown-ups has to be culled for too many syllables, but I think getting interesting stories and essays into the hands of kids, even if it means some editing, some loss of nuance or feeling, is worth it.

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