Writing for Children and Young Adults: Brain Food

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Kids should be encouraged to read both what’s deemed “literary” and more accessible books—period. I read Wonder Woman comics as a kid. I still read Wonder Woman books as a grown up, and hey, I grew up to write superhero graphic novels for young readers.

I also read Nancy Drew. I enjoy page-turning stories. In fact, I learned more than my father ever intended about 007-style romance by cracking the James Bond paperbacks he’d tucked away in a box in the basement.

You know what? I also read the vast majority of fancy major award winners. I loved them all, and there are a lot of kids out there like the one still living inside of me.

Yes, it absolutely matters that children and teenagers read thoughtfully layered books. If they don’t, they’re missing out on stories that will challenge them. Books that will make them more empathetic and better critical thinkers for the rest of their lives.

But there’s is also much to be said for, say, mass-market series books, comfort books, fun books that are purely for escape. Many of them are deceptively simple, brilliantly rendered.

Kids face a lot of pressure, just growing up. It’s okay if they don’t always reach for weighty subjects or those with obvious curriculum tie-ins. It’s okay if they mix it up.

Likewise, you do you! Whatever kind of manuscript you’re writing—”literary” or “accessible”—own your awesomeness. It’s important, valuable work. You’re making a contribution to young readers.

I’m cheering for you!