posted by Karen Burnham at Tuesday 25 October 2011 @ 12:37 am BST
While I was away I ran a series on the Blog about science fiction for children, everything from age 0 (picture books) to around age 10 (middle grade, I’m told). The parents and kids contacted came up with some great responses, some of which I’ll be looking to order from the UK and Australia! However, we got a significant number of comments asking why we weren’t talking more about the Heinlein juvenile novels.
Henlein wrote those books about 60 years ago, and the great man himself has been dead for 20 years. I’m a hard-core sf reader in my 30’s, and I never read any of the juveniles by either Heinlein or Asimov. This is probably me being grumpy, but isn’t it time we moved on? Or are these books, written for the youth of the 1950’s, still of worthwhile importance for today’s young readers?
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I read them (though as an adult), and I think they are still of value.
And my 13-year-old son, Anson, has read at least a few of them. Probably his name is a giveaway re what sort of reading material I have provided him, but he has enjoyed Space Cadet, Have Space Suit—Will Travel, and had picked up The Rolling Stones to read next (after he finishes Un Lun Dun, because he’s coming with me to ICFA and wants to read a Mieville).
He especially likes books about space, and Heinlein does that pretty well.
I generally hated juvenile literature when I was a juvenile. I remember loving Double Star (I would have been 12) and reading it twice in a week.
I’m with Cecelia–when I was around 12, I jumped right into ‘adult’ genre literature with Heinlein/Clarke/Asimov and (I was young, forgive me) Piers Anthony. I remember enjoying Friday, Childhood’s End, and the I, Robot collection around that time. From before that the only genre literature I remember reading were classics such as the Hobbit and Narnia, plus A Wrinkle in Time–all of the Madeleine L’Engle books were favorites of mine through elementary school.
I never read the Heinlein YA stuff, but then I never read much of the Heinlein adult stuff. I’m not sure it’s time to “move on” from them. That’s something kids will have to decide. When I was 11 or 12, the stationary store downtown had a spinning rack loaded with Ace doubles. Compared to those, the Heinlein YA stuff looked dorky. Also Doc Savage loomed large. They were pretty much schlock, but I remember thinking the covers were awesome. I could never get into that Wrinkle In Time stuff when I was a kid either. Kids who are readers know the best books aren’t the ones that adults suggest, but the ones they find on their own and the ones other kids tell them about.
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