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>"Oh yes, the new Lowry. Haven’t quite got to it yet, but the woman’s a genius."

>While I can think of plenty of children’s books that are actually coffee table books for adults (I know Wabi Sabi was a popular book in the blogosphere but to me it’s a perfect example of this) I’m wondering if there is such a thing among children themselves. Like, is there a Fatal Shore for ten-year-olds? Are there books kids intend (perpetually) to read, pretend to have read or otherwise have a social or internal stake in? We know from Harry Potter that books can be status-bearing among kids, but do they provide enough social va-va-voom to inspire youthful poseurs?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Interesting question. I know that elementary age children love to check novels out from the library, books they can’t possibly read on their own yet. They’ll struggle through them, at least for a while, simply because they don’t want to be checking out ‘baby books’. But that doesn’t seem like quite the same thing.

  2. Monica Edinger says:

    >Definitely Harry Potter after the first summer they did the big release thing and it suddenly became THE book for everyone. I so remember several girls who normally would have been reading Blume or Naylor’s Alice books, lugging around #4. Eventually they sat in the cubbies unfinished.

  3. >I have a friend who claims that he used to read “girl books” (Anastasia Krupnik, etc.) in order to chat up the ladies on the playground.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >I’m with Monica on Harry Potter. Lots of kids bought them and lugged them around and simply weren’t that interested or were comfortable reading one through three but found the rest too dense or lengthy.

  5. Roger Sutton says:

    >Did you also get kids ostentatiously not reading Harry Potter? Kind of like the way I rolled my eyes at my niece last weekend when she said she was reading Twilight.

  6. Monica Edinger says:

    >I didn’t experience that with 4th graders, but I’d guess (hope) that some slightly older kids did just that as I did with the Beatles in 1964 purely because the other 6th grade girls were being so “stupid” about them.

  7. >My classmates and I were such competitive readers as kids (we’d call each other on the phone at night to say, “I’m on chapter 5–what chapter are you on”–that I’m sure we must have done some of this, although I don’t remember any specific examples.

  8. Anonymous says:

    >My 3rd grade nephew, who has reading trouble, is carrying around HUGO CABRET–we think it’s because it’s big and thick and it makes him feel he’s reading as well as the other kids. He’s embarrassed by FROG AND TOAD, for example.

  9. Anonymous says:

    >My kids were those ostentatious non-readers of Harry Potter. But the middle one (male!) HAS read Twilight. Oh the snerking behind my closed door.


  10. Mother (Re)produces. says:

    >When I was a child (late seventies early eighties) It was Lord of the Rings and the Narnia series. Everyone was reading them, everyone had read them, and I carried them around and around and around.

  11. J. L. Bell says:

    >A school librarian on Child_Lit told a story about middle-grade boys checking out the later Harry Potter books and then sitting around bragging to each other about how big their volumes were—without actually reading them.

    Because for some boys, size matters.

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