A friend told me she'd been ill recently and had been frustrated that she couldn't use her convalescence to catch up with her reading. She just couldn't concentrate. 

We discussed the sort of books she found helpful in getting back into the zone and we agreed that children's books are a good way in. Great characters, punchy plots and a good pace with action and interest, and not too much superfluous description! What's more, as the award-winning and bestselling writer Katherine Rundell says, the best children’s fiction takes us back to a time when “new discoveries came daily and when the world was colossal, before the imagination was trimmed and neatened…”

Children's books are also "written to be read by a section of society without political or economic power”. And, as the reviewer Alex Preston said: "In an age whose political ructions are the result of widespread frustration at the powerlessness of the many in the face of the few, this recognition of how emboldening and subversive children’s books can be, feels important."

So it's been interesting to learn that in recent research, of the readers of YA (young adult) books (which are aimed at teenagers), 74 per cent were over 18 years old, and 28 per cent were over 28. The report established that the appeal of this genre was that it offered comfort and a defence against the stresses of the responsibilities of adulthood.

There was also a sense that nostalgia, seeking out authors discovered in childhood, can offer an emotional and intellectual support. And of course there's a sense of escapism, too, into a realm where justice and resolution is understood as an outcome of the story, or where contemporary issues are viewed from a fresh perspective. But, says one commentator 'The important thing at any age is not so much what you read...as having access to all the benefits of being a reader'. 

Thank you for reading.