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Difficult Lessons Couched in Creative Storylines

In a world filled with so many complex issues and dangers, writers seeking to inform children in a way that is non-threatening, engaging, and relatable have an extremely delicate task. At a recent PEN Panel called “Children’s Literature: Braving Our Endangered World,” held on May 4th, panelists discussed their tactics for presenting science and ecology-themed books to children in a way that would resonate with them.

The panelists’ books covered topics such as ethnic conflicts, endangered species, and trash dumping in our oceans. Each of the panelists have found a way to expand their expertise in science through the lens of literature. By creating human stories to surround scientific issues, they have been able to reach a new audience and convey significant messages about serious scientific issues.

Though these are weighty subjects to address in children’s books, they are vital to instill them with a sense of what is going on in the world around them. Children are naturally eager to learn and explore and tapping into their innate sense of discovery is an excellent way to impart important messages that will shape their worldview.

The key according to Padma Venkatraman, author of Island’s End, is “well-rounded passionate characters that leave readers with questions.” Too often the moral or social message of a children’s story can be too thinly veiled, which quickly loses a child’s attention as it then becomes more of a boring lesson and less of a captivating story. Fostering that wondrous sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness and getting children engaged with key topics surrounding environmental issues and cultural differences is the best way to enable them to become conscientious and well-rounded adults.

Check out the full article on Publishers Weekly.

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