Just want to clarify my own post: Just because The Graveyard Book might have NOT had been widely read by children around the country/world, does not mean that it is not a wonderful Children’s Book. It is. It will take mind, heart, and soul of each child reader to truly appreciate this book, though.
I’m thinking of the three kinds of fiction reading that we do as readers (and maybe especially young readers?). (I just made these up, so bear with me.) (And I realize that they can also be the three kinds of writings/books — so not just dependent on the readers, but the authors as well.)
The first kind is the visceral reading: that we read quickly, just gobbling down the words very easily, like wolfing down a thick slice of chocolate cake. We pay little attention to the word choices, to the deliberate rhythm of each sentence, or other “literary details” but what’s going to happen next to the one or two main characters we care about. Some books/stories are created to elicit purely such visceral reactions. And many many readers, young or old, take great pleasure in reading such books, without having to stop and contemplate.
The second is the cerebral reading: that we read closely, conscious of all the craftsmanship mastered by the author — the voice, the tone, the vocabulary, the ways characters are constructed, the beat of each sentence, etc. etc., to the point that we analyze and marvel as we read without emotionally affected by the work. This kind of reading is often found when people feel the need or responsibility when they “KNEW” before they started reading a book that it is supposed to be a very well written piece of literature, and they want to make sure that they have such and such title under their belt for discussion with others.
The third is the soulful reading: that we are greatly involved with the emotions, the settings, the plot and the world of the story, while at the same time, our souls take flight with the artistic achievements of such skillful telling! Our experiences as humans are enriched with such a reading.
I see The Graveyard Book as belonging to the 3rd kind of writing — it has the potential to both delight and enrich any reader’s life. I see Pullman’s His Dark Materials and White’s Charlotte’s Web as two other prime examples.