Inside a Children’s Book

quotes about writing
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?

5 Responses to Inside a Children’s Book
  1. Victoria KP (@vic39first)
    January 9, 2013 | 3:33 am

    So true! I just finished reading “Because of Winn-Dixie” with my 8-year-old son for his school book club. It was chock-full of really heavy themes like loneliness, alcoholism, abandonment and loss. But it was so well told he and I just adored it.

    • angela
      January 9, 2013 | 5:53 am

      That IS a heavy book for an 8 year old, but I love hearing kids are reading things like that young. I think it gives them a chance to touch on those subjects and then later re-visit them when they’re older. Yay!

  2. Brianna
    January 9, 2013 | 12:15 pm

    I have ideas for two series: one of children’s books about how different animals might celebrate Jewish holiday (i.e. A Polar Bear for Passover and A Hippo for Hanukkah) and another about a third grader who goes back in time to experience famous events and meet famous people. Book #1 has her going back in time to meet Socrates while learning about the Socratic Method in school.

  3. Roxanne
    January 9, 2013 | 4:47 pm

    I think writing children’s or YA feels so daunting to me. I’m always so impressed with the YA I read. Some of it is a lot better than ‘adult’ fiction I read. But I love reading YA. I mean, come on, Harry Potter? ;-)

  4. homepage
    July 1, 2013 | 2:26 am

    Good article! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our website.
    Keep up the great writing.