The 5-year-old toddler

How soon do you grow out of ‘toddler’ books? By toddler books I really mean picture books, although I know that in a way this is too vague a concept. There are picture books for adults. And for teenagers and eight-year-olds. I even seem to recall a picture book for 80-year-olds not long ago.

But the reason I’m asking is that I sat next to someone at an event a while back, who was most insistent on knowing my opinion on what age the book being talked about was aimed at. I suggested up to five, maybe. It wasn’t my book, so I had to guess.

He sounded exasperated with me (I didn’t ask to be asked in the first place), and explained he had a grandchild that age and it would be far too young for him/her.

The reason I felt this needn’t be the case, was that I’m beginning to think we are too categorical in our decision on who likes what and when. What makes us adults believe we know when a child won’t want a book any more? (Unless the child actually says so.)

Yes, perhaps they have matured and are ready for older reading material. But that doesn’t automatically mean that they won’t want to read the well thumbed and much loved picture book they have had for, oh, two years. Does it? Children feel comfortable with the well known.

I still have a few early books of mine. There are only a few, because I only owned a few books. I loved them then, and have seen no reason to part with them, despite my advanced age. So why take away a toddler age book from your child once they start school and can read ‘proper’ books?

(If someone were to point out I have done this very thing, they must be wrong. And I apologise. Just in case.)

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