Happy Saturday, Everyone.
The first day of October! I know Fall officially lands in September, but it never mentally or emotionally feels like Fall until October...like we've crossed some season boundaries.
Which, I admit, is a lame start to what today's topic is: What does not belong in this target audience stories? Is anything out of bounds?
This is a great question and one that I’ll be sitting on a panel at TusCon in November discussing with other authors. In my discussions with those authors in preparation for that panel is this. What would have been edgy when my children were reading YA and Children’s books is tame today and what we’re seeing in YA fiction today is really very sophisticated and adult.
Children are maturing a lot faster today than they did when I was a child. Movies and television expose them to real life issues that they also see played out in their school and neighborhood environments. Not even small towns or rural areas are immune.
Growing up, my friends read the exploits of Gidget by Frederick Kohner, which mainly was about a young girl’s coming of age. Others were more daring and read Judy Blume novels that were considered quite controversial because they dealt with almost forbidden topics then: menstruation, teen sex, birth control, divorce, bullying, and even suicide.
So today’s YA books (even if it’s a fantasy) deal with real life issues as well. They will cover many of those same themes that Judy Blume covered but also deal with racism, struggles with gender identity, drugs, homelessness, and pregnancy. I don’t think any topic is off-limits if it is handled with honesty and sensitivity.
I don't think anything too distressing or horrific belongs in YA or children's books.
There is so much misery in the world that, as an adult, if I escape into a book, I don't want to meet anything painful there. I want to be entertained and possibly uplifted. If I want to be depressed, I pick up a newspaper.
Themes such as violence appear in children's books, for example in fairy stories that have been enjoyed through the generations, but usually, violent acts are not described graphically and the stories themselves are so obviously make-believe that a wolf eating poor Granny isn't as gruesome as it would be in reality. Why introduce children to pain too soon? There are plenty of gritty books awaiting them when they reach adulthood.
Keep reading and dreaming. If there’s anything you’re curious about just drop me a note: MuseChrisChat@gmail.com