Hey cHEwY gum gums!

So one of the highlights of last Thursday’s Paul Jennings FB online event was hearing him speak about the children’s book scene. He kept saying that he was afraid of being out of touch with #kidslit industry, which is wrong because he never left (more on that later).

But it got me thinking about what happens when a children’s author reign is over, when they finally reach that point that they can’t relate to kids anymore. The truth is that most successful children authors write well into their senior years. Ageism doesn’t exist here, a lot of the best-known authors are well beyond middle-age. Longievty is a good thing. I can’t see myself doing anything else, so I want to be like my heroes like Andy Griffiths, Morris Gleitzman and Paul Jennings, who are inspiring multi-generations of kids.

Children’s books are timeless for a reason. There are genres such as adventure and fantasy that will forever stand the test of time, apart from the old mention of tech. Historic fiction will always be trending thanks to the school curriculum. Jackie French continues to power on, dipping into history to bring out some interesting stories about all kinds of historic figures from Hitler to Shakespeare. That kind of stuff never gets old, and kids will always read them.

The best children authors reinvent themselves to keep themselves fresh. Paul Jennings has been shining with his Different Series, such as a Different Dog, Different Boy and Different Land. New readers are discovering Anh Do with his adventure books like Sky Dragon and Wolf Girl. An author I’ve admired, Deb Abela has written everything from spy girls to bears in space.

Perhaps Paul was talking about the other side of being a children’s author, the performing, visiting schools and festivals part. Yeah, I guess I can see where he’s coming from, when kids are talking about Among Us and Memes. But I’ve seen plenty of legends who continue to dazzle modern kids without having to mention YouTube. They’re genuine about their love of stories and the kids will latch onto that.

So yeah, Paul Jennings is not out of touch with children’s books. He’s doing just fine, as adults and kids alike were gushing over his legacy of stories (me included). I hope I can do the same thing in thirty years time, still making people laugh, playing games and pretending to be a dinosaur. I think one of the reasons why children authors look so young is because we’re kids at heart, and well…life’s too short to be serious all the time 🙂


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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