As any reader would know, books have the power to change people’s perceptions and understanding. They have the ability to transport you into a new or previously unexplored world, and inspire you with their stories of courage and resilience.
But sometimes the messages imparted in non-fiction or biographical books can be a little bit daunting or complicated for younger readers, despite their importance. This is why some publishers release ‘young reader editions’ of particular books, hoping to broaden young minds, while still allowing for the innocence of youth.
Above are just some of the books that have been released as both adult and teen versions. The same has also been done for Li Cunxin’s Mao’s Last Dancer and Anne Frank’s Diary Of A Young Girl.
Have you read any of these? Would you be interested in reading, or having your child read, any of the above books? Do you think it’s a good idea?
In general I don't like the idea of young reader's editions of fiction books because I think the beauty of the language may be lost, so it might be better for children to wait until they are older to read them. It makes sense with non fiction though- it can get them reading about and learning to understand a subject they're interested in without some of the boring parts that might put them off. I suppose there's an argument to be made that leaving out things that might be scary or too "adult" is censorship, but it probably depends on the maturity of the individual reader the book is for. I might pick up that young reader's version of I am Malala for my daughter because she's interested in Malala and this way she won't have to wait as long to read about her. We have a picture book about her, but more depth would be nice.
Come to think of it, I have bought her several young reader's versions of Shakespeare's plays, where they are told as a story with illustrations, so I suppose I'm making an exception to my own rule there. I'd like her to have the opportunity to read/watch the actual plays later for the beauty of them, but this way she is familiar with the stories already, which is helpful when they come up in other texts (with the most famous ones like Romeo and Juliet etc.) Similarly we have a children's bible, which tells some of the more interesting stories from the bible in simpler language with pictures, which is useful when those stories recur in other texts and for comparing and contrasting them with the myths of other cultures.
I can't say I have ever read a Younger Reader's Edition of a book, but I do appreciate the concept. I think they're probably better options when language might be a concern (censoring out swearing for example), or when something needs to be simplified for a better understanding (without weighing down the story with too many in-depth facts).