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Why 'grown-up' authors are now writing for kids

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This is a tale of how writers for adults came to write books for children – again.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, long before there were skateboards and Nintendos and movies at the mall, many children would sit and read books, written by the wisest people in the land.

They read about a clever spider and a pig, or a wardrobe with a magic land inside. The man who wrote about the spider, E.B. White, was a great writer for grown- ups in New York, and across the sea, in an ancient place called Oxford, a professor named C.S. Lewis wrote about a lion and a witch.

The children loved to read these books so much that grown-ups read them too. And wise writers wrote their wisest books about older boys and girls, like the barefoot boy named Huckleberry, or Scout from the land down south, or a boy named Holden, who ran away from school.

But then this stopped for many years, and books like these were gone. "Reading may have taken a back seat to television, video games – all the myriad evils," says grown-up Jerome Kramer, editor of BOOK magazine in New York.

With these many evils in the land, the people who made books thought children wouldn't read long stories with lots of pages. The people also learned to study demographics, and they thought grown ups liked books just for grown-ups, and children liked books just for children.

But then a book about a boy with round-rimmed glasses came to the stores. Children loved the adventures of Harry Potter, who went to school to learn to be a wizard. It was a big book with lots of pages, and grown-ups loved it too. The author, J.K. Rowling, wrote three more, and millions and millions rushed to buy them, girls and boys and moms and dads.

Now, writers and publishers all through the land are trying to make books for children – books that grown-ups might like too. "Harry Potter reawakened the genre," Mr. Kramer says. "What I think was reawakened was that excitement, that passion of getting lost in a great book."


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