Saturday, November 21, 2009

Children's literature can and should go beyond feel-good fantasy

At this time of year, holiday celebrations and some quiet time for reflection beckon. Some long for the picture-book perfect holiday. Some look for the perfect picture book for a child's holiday reading.

For many years, before I taught at the University of B.C., I worked as a bookseller. Buyers hunting for "the perfect book for a bright child" wanted books solely for delight. They shied away from "serious reads."

Booksellers today see this, too. Books with a happy ending and popular series books such as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter or C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles or Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series are much in demand.

Yes, kids need these books, but for balance they also benefit from and can enjoy reading tough books that challenge and expand their view of the world, particularly the world of children less fortunate than themselves.