Illustrations Enhance the Appeal of Classic Stories

The idea was that we would add illustrations to classic stories to enhance their appeal. Middle-grade readers would see the books on a library or classroom shelf, fan the pages, see the vivid, often humorous illustrations, and give the old stories a try. The stylish prose in finely crafted stories by master authors would then captivate middle-grade readers. They would attain a greater interest  in the language of their lives - that which they hear and speak and write. And literature! Our thin, little books with illustrations might be the first plunge many middle-grade readers take into the deep world of literature. The books might even serve to spur life-long habits of reading fiction for pleasure and enlightenment in some middle-grade readers who give them a try. Just maybe. That was the idea.

But what exactly is to be gained by developing such a reading habit? Isn’t reading fiction for pleasure mostly as out-of-date as the old stories we adapt and publish? Stories in print, with or without illustrations, are not nearly as enjoyable as stories that can be watched on screens, right? And what kind of enlightenment can reading for pleasure provide anyway? Reading for needed information - yes. But enlightenment? Give me a break! There is nothing that fiction can do to enlighten. Facts do that!

So are we on a hopeless quest? That might well be. We don’t know yet. Dreams are dreams.

Illustrated Literature for Youngsters (and oldsters)