Saturday, March 7, 2009

Is Anything Off limits?

Is anything off limits in today's children's literature? I guess that depends on your perspective. As far as I can see, as a reviewer, picture books and early readers still tend to shy away from certain topics — sexuality, violence and drugs top the list. Sure lighter forms of these topics are discussed. you can find books with a kiss or bullying. But very few deal with homosexuality, child abuse, or suicide. And maybe they shouldn't. I'm not saying children aren't exposed to these topics in there everyday life. Heck, most kids have can find it all wrapped into one exciting package if they have a Playstation or Xbox. So where does that put children's literature? How does the industry handle these topics?

The teen, or young adult, market seems to have no problem tackling even the toughest topic. just scan the shelves in the young adult section of your local book store and you'll find books that cover everything — suicide, rape, homosexuality, hard drugs, prostitution, gang violence, murder, abortion, and much more. Some of the stories have solid messages, but some are just considered "entertaining." Maybe. After all adults get a kick out of their own pulp fiction.

So again I ask... Is anything off limits? If you were a children's and young adult book editor what would you say? Maybe you are an editor or maybe you are a parent. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. The one subject that continues to be taboo is, oddly enough, religion. Especially Christianity.


  2. Thank you for your comment. Although I understand wanting to see more Christian messages in children's books I would hesitate to say that the subject is taboo.

    Tommy Nelson, a well-respected publishing company that specializes in Christian oriented books, has several on the shelves at your local bookstore. My favorites are "Sidney and Norman," by Phil Vischer and Max Lucado's very successful, Wemmicks series — I suggest, "You are Special" and "If only I had a Green Nose."

    While the message may be harder to find among the wizardry and vampires of middle reader and young adult fiction novels, it can still be found. The "Narnia" series may be classics but they still explore Christianity in a manner that leads middle readers and teens to think.

    Then there is the oft misunderstood "Harry Potter" series. The last book of the series definitely explores the battle of good and evil through a Messianic figure and his followers.

    Thank you again for your comment. I love opening up the discussion.