I, like many children's authors, frequently visit schools and run writing workshops. I can guarantee that when we're making up a story in class the characters the children choose are nearly always monsters, vampires, witches or ghosts. The stories usually involve someone killing someone, blowing someone up or a battle of some kind. The children create the stories with relish and when I ask them if they think that's a bit scary they usually protest that it doesn't scare them at all. Is this a result of the books they read and the films they watch or is it part of childhood?
I don't particularly like horror stories myself but I think there's a place for them. They give children the chance to let their imagination run riot and to face their fears and nightmares in a safe setting. It's the same with the issue-led YA books that deal with drugs, self-harming, bullying, rape and other serious topics. Some youngsters today have to deal with these issues, perhaps reading books like this help them. Life isn't perfect, families aren't always happy ones, children face many problems. Do we try to discuss them, write about them, hope we help children deal with them or do we ignore them?
Personally, I believe that there's a place for all sorts of fiction, but it's important that there's a variety of books for children to choose from, funny stories, magical stories, exciting adventures and warm family stories not just the black-covered lurid ones. The world can be a dark place but it can be a fascinating, wonderful, funny and heart-warming one too and I believe that children's books should reflect that. What do you think?
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