I read The Little Prince for the first time this week. It’s an amazing book for children and I’m sure re-reading it as an adult is magical, but there’s something lost without the lens of youth. None of this is a criticism of the book in any way; it’s a wonderful piece of art. I just wish I could have read it when I was 8 or 9.
Wonderful and complicated ideas aren’t inaccessible to children. The best books written for them understand them and present these ideas in manner that makes them accessible to children (this does not mean that the ideas are dumbed down or whitewashed, just that their presentation is changed). When this happens, adults are (justly) left out. It’s not our dialect, no matter how precocious. But even more important than the manner of the presentation is the novel nature of it; these powerful concepts and ideas are presented so that they will resonate most powerfully with those who have not -up until this point- heard them.
Again, this is no criticism. The Little Prince is one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read; if I ever spawn progeny it’s going to be read to them at some point. Without any children in my life right now to share it with, it rings a bit empty, but no less true.