Children's book collection -

How to choose a book that can really appeal to children

An adult who chooses a book for a child intuitively uses two criteria: does the image appeal to me? Will this book “bring” something to this child? In other words, it combines a purely subjective criterion, based on habits and aesthetic a priori, with an objective criterion, around the underlying idea that a child’s activity should always offer an educational benefit.

Widely shared and even assumed, these two spontaneous criteria lead to the renewal of choices that are ultimately conformist, favouring books that have already been successful for a long time and a narrowly utilitarian vision of children’s books.

There’s no question of discussing tastes and colours in graphic design, but it’s important to remember that we generally like what we’re already used to. This leads parents to look for aesthetics that are familiar to them, often going back to books they had as children. This phenomenon explains the success of Martine’s albums, launched in the middle of the baby boom 70 years ago, and shared by more than three generations of parents since then.

This taste for the familiar also leads to a preference for the dominant aesthetics of an era, the ways of drawing “à la mode”, which can be found from advertising to women’s magazines, from children’s magazines to cartoons.

Shiver of novelty

The retreat into what is familiar to our eyes has a two-fold effect: first, it emphasizes a relationship to the image marked by very old-fashioned aesthetic criteria: the drawing should be realistic, with soft or tart tones, a concrete and abundant image; second, it emphasizes the dominant aesthetics of the time, in general that of the mass media, to the detriment of exposing children to various styles that would open their eyes and nourish their young culture.

How to get out of this aesthetic “routine”? Perhaps by sliding towards another criterion of choice: in front of a book, the adult could ask himself whether his children or pupils already have in their collection of books of the same style as this one, or on the contrary whether this one will bring this little thrill of novelty which tickles the eye, widens the palette of tastes, makes one sensitive to difference, allows the development of personal tastes.

Discovering together a new aesthetic allows us to exchange, to say what we like or what hurts us, to savour together without saying a word the beauty of a page of colour.a book proposing a new way of depicting the world, it is one more experience offered to the young will make him sensitive to diversity, more curious but also freer and more audacious in his own creative essays.

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