Madeleine L’Engle wrote some of my favorite children’s books; I can still remember flipping through pages of the dictionary to find the word “tesseract” while reading A Wrinkle in Time. One of my not-so-secret favorite parts of teaching middle school language arts was revisiting some of my favorite children’s and young adult literature and calling it work.
“Splinters”, the second story in my short story collection Nothing Goes Away dances on the line separating young adult fiction from fiction. Today, at least, it’s my favorite of the three stories, and I toy with the idea of starting a new young adult project. There’s something raw and urgent about walking in the shoes of young adult characters grappling with life problems while on the cusp of adulthood.
Madeleine L’Engle knew children’s literature could be immensely complicated, offering giant concepts like a tesseract to eager brains ready to sponge up dictionary definitions and press the words into creative minds not yet encumbered with the strict confines of “reality”. Writers like L’Engle, Lois Lowry and Jerry Spinelli never shy away from universal questions, moral dilemmas or human mortality. They wrap giant concepts around compelling stories and let the minds of children and young adults synthesize and discuss and grow from those big ideas.
We should all be so brave.
Have you ever considered writing children’s or young adult literature?