Well, not all literature, of course. Just children's literature.
As part of the "clean up" of my mother's estate, I've had to go through all her worldly possessions, the vast bulk of which were retained in the house in which she lived the last 45 years. My mother was not one to throw things out that might retain usefulness...and far less likely to do so for anything of sentimental value...and so I've found plenty of possessions that I recall her having owned since BEFORE we moved into the house where she lived the majority of her life (i.e. the house my family moved to when I was four years old). Hell, I've found things from before MY time, carefully preserved, in boxes, chest, dressers, etc. An old steamer trunk contained not only her wedding veil, but the top piece from her wedding cake and (what I can only presume is) a saved piece of the cake itself. A cedar "hope chest" containing mementoes of her childhood, including her own childhood journals, diaries, and scrap books. 75 years of life saved...her own, her family's, those of myself and my brother.
And, of course, books. My family..on my mother's side...has always been readers and lovers of books. I own shelves and shelves of books in my own home...more than half a dozen stuffed full. My mother had twice as many, most of which go from floor to ceiling, some shelves having two rows of books (one in front of the other)...and then there are cardboard boxes, crates, filled with other books (carefully organized by author or genre) that she probably intended for donation, having found a need to clear shelf space (to make room for new volumes).
Going through the books in my mother's home, I have come across shelves containing my own books...books from my youth, books that I haven't read since I was a child of 10 or 11 or younger. Most of these slim paperbacks, the kinds of books one (once) found on the shelves of school and public libraries designated for young readers. Adventures or mysteries or (subdued) science fiction featuring young (kid or teen) protagonists. What I used to think of as typical kids reading. Many of these...especially anything with a detective or mystery or "horror" (think "ghost story") theme I've collected for my daughter, who struggles to find books that pique (let alone hold) her interest.
And I realized something the other day as I collected these books and showed them to my nine year old and saw her delight and excitement...I realized just how different children's books are these days. The books that I used to read...regardless of the genre, regardless of supernatural or fantastical elements that they might include...were still just about kids. Normal everyday kids. Kids thrust into strange situations or experiencing dramatic circumstances, but kids readily identifiable as normal children.
NOT individuals suddenly discovering that they have "magic powers" and are destined to go to wizard school to learn why they speak to snakes. NOT kids who are descended from Greek gods. NOT kids who have been trained since birth to become super spies covertly working for MI6 or the CIA as soon as they hit puberty. NOT children endowed with wealth and resources and family legacies of secret societies.
In other words, NOT the protagonists of the various popular kids books...or, rather, series of books...that line the shelves of Barnes & Noble and that my son (and the few kids we know that might read as voraciously as my son) tends to read. Kids' literature these days are not about a normal child having to deal with an extraordinary turn of events...instead, they are stories of extraordinary, fantastical "children" dealing with the burden of being some sort of "Chosen One" figure.
Frankly, it made me (and makes me) more and more irritated the more I think about it. Yes, the Pevensie children of C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are destined to become the High Kings and Queens or Cair Paravel, but only after starting as normal everyday children and undergoing incredible experiences. They are quite ordinary in many respects, and the children of Lewis's later Narnia chronicles are even MORE ordinary...just normal kids trying to get by in spite of the weirdness of their surroundings. The same holds true for Baum's Dorothy Gale...folks of Oz may presume Dorothy has some magical powers or abilities, but Dorothy herself operates under no such delusion.
But those aren't the books I'm talking about anyway. Those take place in Narnia or Oz or whatever...most of the children's books I'm talking about take place on real world Earth with normal kids that discover an extra-terrestrial or a treasure map or a haunted castle or whatever. Normal kids with normal kid issues (family, school, whatever) in addition to whatever circumstances the author of the book throws at them...and forced to find inner resolve or ingenuity or courage or determination or whatever to deal with that extraordinary situation as a normal child in addition to dealing with the standard kid issues of family, school, etc.
In REAL fashion. Not just casting a spell on your parents to make them forget you exist so you can go off and fight evil with your wand.
I'm sorry...I know a lot of my readers are probably twenty-plus years younger than myself and grew up reading and loving Rowling's books. I've never liked them all that much. And their incredible success has fueled trends in children's literature that I dislike immensely. Call me an old curmudgeon (I call myself one anyway).
Just wanted to get that all off my chest.