Children's Books Are...

A little while ago, Jen asked:

"Which of these represents your view about children's books?

Childhood is a sweet and innocent time, and children's books should be about fluffy bunnies and other comforting subjects.
Childhood is a mean and dangerous time, and children's books should represent reality with all its obstacles and troubles.
Childhood is a mean and dangerous time, and therefore kids need comforting fluffy-bunny stories because that's the way life ought to be.
Children's literature should be prescriptive, describing the world kids should aspire to.
Children's literature should be descriptive, describing the world as it is and kids as they really are, for better or worse."

I don't disagree with the latter two, and there's nothing wrong with some children's books representing reality with all its obstacles and troubles, either. Jen goes on to note that we need all types of books, "humor and adventure, realism and fantasy, poetry and prose... We need books that challenge kids and books that reassure them."

More importantly, from a writer's point of view, is knowing where in the spectrum your own books lie. I have no trouble writing about some of the darker stuff. Yet, partly because it's YA, and partly because all my books seem to have historical bents to them, the horrors always seem to have a certain fantastical element. They're not gritty modern tales but rather explorations of human failings and strengths, set against past events.

In short, the kind of stuff I always liked to read as a kid.

As CS Lewis once said "I put in [my children's stories] what I would have liked to read when I was a child and what I still like reading now that I am in my fifties" (Of Other Worlds, p. 22).


Childrens's books are for children...
Deniz Bevan said…
Oh! Tsk, tsk, you don't want to go limiting yourself now!

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