As I mentioned in a previous post, two of my favourite books (The Fountain Overflows and A High Wind in Jamaica) are classics not of but about the experience of childhood. There is nothing so skillful, so magical, as a work of fiction that successfully evokes for the adult reader what it is like to be a child. (Adults remember just enough to know instinctively when the author's got it all wrong.) Sometimes books intended for children can do this for adults --but only sometimes, not all the time, because that is not the purpose of those books. Children don't need to be reminded of how it feels to be immersed in a state they are already engulfed in. But adults, particularly the ones who have children or know them -- or, come to think of it, the ones who were children -- do. I personally want to be reminded again and again. So here is the beginning (only the beginning!) of a list of highly regarded books not of but about childhood:
Call It Sleep (also suggested by Andrea Barrett)
I've just put in my order but don't worry, I'm sure I'll be making another one. So if you have a suggestion, please do share it.