Childlike or Childish?

015The gang’s all here on my desk.
I spy with my little eye, Gandalf!

I have a lot of YouTube subscriptions. 😀 Two of my favorite channels are The Toy Genie and CookieSwirlC. These YouTubers talk about the latest toy sets and gadgets, and often demonstrate how to assemble these items.

Toy Genie    CookieSwirlC

In the comment section of one of Toy Genie’s recent videos, one commenter stated (and I’m going by memory here, so I’ll have to paraphrase), “I wish she’d stop being so childish.” That comment is the basis for this post.

Several of Toy Genie’s loyal subscribers immediately chastised the commenter. By the way, many of her loyal subscribers are kids and parents. She has over 860,000 subscribers (as of the writing of this post)—a group larger than the population of the state of Vermont. CookieSwirlC has over two million.


Childish? Childish like a fox!

The Toy Genie video comment reflects feedback I’ve heard before in regard to adults who read and/or write books for children and teens. I can’t help recalling an article a couple of years back in which the writer took adults to task for reading young adult novels. Perhaps you read it. (Click here for a Washington Post article that boldly refutes that article.)

I have to wonder what the goal is for anyone who utters such negative feedback. To shame someone who doesn’t live up to a certain standard of adult behavior? I don’t know about you, but shame has never motivated me to do anything worthwhile.


All of the people I know who write books for children and young adults read books for children and young adults. They’re aware of what kids like and the activities in which kids are involved. If they didn’t know anything about what kids care about or were too concerned about looking “childish” in the eyes of someone who didn’t believe that writing books for kids is a worthwhile enterprise, they could never convincingly create the characters who populate their stories.

242144Brain Pickings, a great newsletter to which I subscribe, featured an article by Maria Popova on C. S. Lewis and his approach to writing for children. (You can read the article by clicking here.) Here’s a quote from that article, which is from an essay written by Lewis that can be found in the book, Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories.

We must write for children out of those elements in our own imagination which we share with children: differing from our child readers not by any less, or less serious, interest in the things we handle, but by the fact that we have other interests which children would not share with us. The matter of our story should be a part of the habitual furniture of our minds.

A commenter for the Washington Post article used another quote from Lewis’s essay:

Critics who treat “adult” as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. . . . When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

That’s one reason why I enjoy the channels of YouTubers like Toy Genie and CookieSwirlC. They embrace a childlike sensibility, and have a blast making their videos. Their enjoyment inspires me.

Has someone ever tried to shame you about something you enjoyed? How did you respond?


Toy Genie image from CookieSwirlC logo from Woman ashamed from Nick Wilde of the movie Zootopia was found at

80 thoughts on “Childlike or Childish?

  1. I am yet to read A Wrinkle In Time, but there’s this Madeleine L’Engle quote that I love: “You must write the book that needs to be written. And if it will be too difficult for grownups, write it for children.” Which I love because I think adults can certainly be far more close-minded than their children, and it’s a shame watching some kids grow up into those close-minded adults when they had so much wonder and curiosity before.

    And then there’s the 4th Doctor: “There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.”

    I remember just after seeing Pixar’s Inside Out, I was on the IMDB boards for it, and there were a couple of threads with people saying “I don’t know why you are all watching this, it’s a kids movie.” Like that’s an insult or something. Kids movies often have way more depth than adult ones, which is why I enjoy them so much more.

      • I didn’t come to DW until 2001, being a child of the 90s; Pertwee is my favourite, I think partially because he was my first, but Tom is definitely a close second.

      • I am impressed. Most latecomers don’t have time (pun not intended) for the old, classic Doctors. Yes, Pertwee was great, too. And as a fan of black and white films and TV I am a fan of Troughton also.

      • At first I was just taking out all the stuff my library had (it was very exciting when we got ourfirst DVD player because it meant there were new ones I Could see) but then I was very spoiled, as the Australian ABC began re-running the entire classic series four nights a week, l don’t think they deliberately timed it this way, since it would have only been very early days of getting the new series off the ground, but it finished up pretty much just in time for the new series to start. .

      • Wow. That’s great! I showed a teen I know some of Tom Baker’s episodes. He watched them, but didn’t want to see any more. He thought the old series were too cheesy.

    • Thanks for those quotes, Emily. I quite agree!

      I’m amazed that people were so disparaging of Inside Out. It was movie a person of any age could enjoy (as is Zootopia). There were a lot of aspects that went over the kids’ heads. Same with Zootopia. When I saw that movie yesterday, a kid in the audience was a bit traumatized by a scene. So I don’t think of it as strictly a movie for kids.

  2. People who write for children have a great and serious responsibility. They are charged with getting our children to love books and reading, and for putting the tools in the hands of their parents to accomplish this. There is no greater task!

  3. Childish for me is a pejorative word but childlike , not .
    Indeed blessed the one who keeps his child soul inside his grown up mind .
    I think the growing of the mind is not made by destruction of what was before but in building over and over in a progressive evolution .

  4. I sometimes wonder if people who use shame to make other act ‘adult’ are working off some inner issues. Maybe they were shamed into dropping a dream that others thought was childish, so they’re doing the same to others. It’s a weird mentality when somebody tries to you to act more adult since there isn’t really a gauge. If we all worked dull ‘adult’ jobs, paid bills, and avoided risk then the world would be a boring place.

    The one time someone tried to shame me about something was in regards to anime. Since it’s animation, many people see all of it as childish. American culture puts cartoons in categories like Disney, Dreamworks, kids TV, or mindless adult humor that is always a comedy. So this person saw the medium and jumped to the wrong conclusion. I mean, Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t for children unless you’re out to give them nightmares. I get where the person was coming from, but most times people like this come in with no interest in seeing things from another perspective. You sit them down to watch and they’re looking for a reason to hold onto their beliefs instead of opening their mind.

    • I started to mention animation, but deleted it, thinking the post would be too long once I added my two cents about it. Anime is definitely something that some mistake as “for kids only.” They wouldn’t say that if they saw Attack on Titan or Ghost in the Shell. People think the same about graphic novels. I wouldn’t hand a kid Watchmen (though I’m sure older teens have read it).

      I think you’re right–they’re working through their own issues or parroting those beliefs they’ve heard. I’m sure no one accuses the CEO of the LEGO Corporation as being childish for working for a toy company!

  5. I think having a sense of playfulness and curiosity into our adult years helps to keep us young. Those who look down on that take life too seriously. Life’s too hard not to have fun.
    Once, an old coworker gave me a hard time about working jigsaw puzzles. He said, “Why would you waste your time doing that…I’d write a book or something.” I didn’t tell him I was doing that as well. 🙂
    Is that a Pez dispenser I see?

    • Yes it is, Jill. 🙂 And I agree. Life is hard enough! We need that sense of playfulness.

      I love jigsaw puzzles and so many others do too, so I don’t know why your coworker felt the need to complain about that. They’re so relaxing! I wonder what your coworker will do when your book debuts. Maybe your next book can feature a jigsaw puzzle. 😀

  6. I’m sure there are those who chuckle behind my back “tsktsk, Penny is reading a kid’s book again”, but, not to my face. Interesting, thinking about this.

    I am often gifted with children and young adult literature, or informed, “Penny, you should read this”. I think that those who know me well may think me childlike in a complimentary way and I take it as a compliment when my 6 granddaughter calls to tell me about a book I should read. 🙂 The most recent one was “Penny and her lost Marble”. Then, there is my 12 year great nephew who revels in finishing books before I do. 🙂

    • I knew you were a kindred spirit, Penny. 🙂 I take seriously the book recommendations of kids. If something touches them that deeply, I want to read it!
      Did your granddaughter choose that book because of your name?

      • Me too!
        I think seeing my name had something to do with her choice – or maybe she really things her grandmother has lost her marbles. It is a cute book, if a little preachy.
        Have you seen The Book with no Pictures? I think that the name. It has a white cover and just words. It’s fun and silly, making the grownup read silly, nonsense words. She brought it here and conspired with her mommy for me and then Tom to read it.

      • I’ve heard of that book. I think kids love to see if we’ll dare to be silly. My niece and nephew wanted me to read out loud to them a book called The Day My Butt Went Psycho. An actual middle grade novel along the lines of Captain Underpants. They were delighted that I read the whole thing to them on a long trip.

  7. I think there’s a whole lot of intellectual snobbery that infests the book world. I rarely read books for children or YAs – nor much fantasy – or war books very often – or romance – or cowboy books! But I do read crime and thrillers, and find that often bookish people look down on these as ‘oh, genre fiction!’, as if in some way they can’t be compared to ‘literary fiction’. I’ve even had people questioning me giving a five-star rating to a crime novel and a four-star rating to a ‘classic’. I’ve also had people objecting to me criticising a factual book by saying ‘stick to fiction, FictionFan’ as if somehow fiction is a lower form of literature. It makes me laugh, to be honest – I see it as a sign of insecurity when people have to try to promote their own preferences as having some kind of intrinsic worth that other stuff lacks. I usually respond by saying I’m sorry they’re having a bad day and I hope they feel better soon. It’s all a bit childish, really… 😉

  8. The older we get the more childish we wish to be and should be! Parenting and caring for children remind us how valuable it is to think like a child and experience things through those eager eyes. Anyone who denies themselves or others of this is just bitter and judgmental. Good for you for being you and embracing what makes you happy. 🙂

    • Good point, Maria. I don’t wish to grow old and bitter. If I’m 90 and still playing Pokémon, so be it!
      How are you these days? Hope you’re doing well.

  9. Young Adult is one of my favorite genres and I will never give it up, no matter how old I get. I think getting into the mindset of a younger generation makes you understand people and situations better.

  10. I’m surprised people haven’t shamed me for my Lego building, but maybe it’s because I don’t get out much. On the other hand, I don’t think my husband is thrilled with the space it takes up.

  11. Great comments here…how about a generic political slant?

    Childish: rants, raves and bullying, yielding only selfish gains & nothing for the ‘good of the people’ Childlike: sense of fairness (! in games especially !), wonderment which inspires a thirst for knowledge, innocent sense that one can make things right/make a difference; yielding more opportunities and possibilities for ‘the good of the people’

    Very sketchy, I know, but you get the idea I’m sure…. 😉

    • Yes I do. It’s hard to teach children about fairness and selflessness during a presidential campaign. Because they see exactly the opposite with each debate. 😦

    • I so love that series! Every once in a while I’ll read A Wrinkle in Time. I also enjoyed the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time. It followed the novel to the nth degree.

  12. One of the best things about having children and grandchildren is reading to them and choosing new books for them. It reminds me of all those stories I used to love and introduces me to new ones.

    This year instead of buying a calendar with scenic pictures, I bought one with illustrations from Alice in Wonderland. I’m loving it.

  13. Love these sentences: “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. ” I recently went to a lecture where a college professor talked about the class he teaches on fairy tales, which always has a waiting list. Many of his students missed them as children and find great strength and hope in them as young adults.

  14. As others have mentioned, childish is a pejorative word, the only purpose to criticize, shame, put down. When I hear people use the word in certain contexts, I wonder what made them so rigid and critical. I imagine their lives to be miserable and, you know, misery loves company. The question I would ask is, what gives you joy? If your YouTube channels give you joy, then watch them until the cows come home! Do they spark your creativity? Then, even more reason to watch them. I agree that to write (well) children’s and YA novels, you must also read them. Even better is to immerse yourself in their worlds (which means you might have to act like a teenager sometimes ;)). Why would a young adult read a YA novel that didn’t resonate with him or her because it was written by an old fuddy-duddy?

    I tend to over-react when people are negative in their comments on social media. I just wish those people would move on and leave the ones who are having fun alone. Once in a Facebook group, a poster shared something about writer’s block. The ensuing discussion was interesting until a guy jumped in and harangued about how there was no such thing as writer’s block and that people who claimed to have writer’s block were just lazy, yadda, yadda. I still don’t understand why he felt compelled to make such a harsh comment when everyone else was being quite civil and curious. I bet his writing sucks 😉

    • I totally agree with you. Childish is a pejorative word. I have to wonder if those who are quick to label someone that way were arrested themselves at a young age and forced to “grow up.” That’s why I love what C.S. Lewis (and also Tolkien, though I didn’t quote him) had to say about fairy tales.

      The question “What gives you joy?” is a good one. Those YouTube channels make me smile, so I tune in every day!

      How sad that one person ruined the discussion on Facebook. It sounds like he wanted attention. 😦

      • Good point about the negative poster. I wonder about that sometimes, that perhaps these negative posters just want attention. I think that’s true for many of them, but what kind of attention is that?

  15. I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up a children’s book or young adult novel to read because it isn’t my area of interest, but I’d read anything … to learn. I have enjoyed reading children books to and with children in the past. No, I wouldn’t shame anyone… some of my friends enjoy watching Disney animations and cartoons, and they are as adult as can be.

    Can’t remember anyone trying to shame me about something I do in recent times. Or maybe I’m just too thick-headed to have noticed.

  16. Two great quotes! The immediate rapport I have with children (and hopefully which comes across in my writing) is a direct result of my love of being with kids and doing what they’re doing. We’re sledding, climbing, swinging, running, playing and imagining together.

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