Can you imagine a childhood without good stories? | Daily News

Can you imagine a childhood without good stories?

Can you imagine a childhood without good stories? Can you imagine the poverty of a childhood without good stories written by talented writers, or spoken or sung by masterful storytellers? We humans cannot live without good literature across the life span, but the foundation of our desire to read and write is created, or hindered, in childhood.

The writer for young readers is the best ally and the biggest support of the would-be great writer for adults. The great writer for adults was the child eager to find a good children’s book. Because of that book, she or he grew to love reading and writing and eventually won the Neustadt Prize for adults. Therefore, writing for children can be seen as even more important than that for adults, because through children’s literature, and during childhood, word artists could reach and teach young people to think creatively, to think for themselves, and to think of others too.

During childhood, word artists have a chance to give children the strong permission to grow and include, to create and dream, to lead and be kind, taking us to an ever-improving future.

Without a great investment in childhood and the books written for children, which means investing greatly in the people who choose to do that necessary work, many minds can learn early to judge poorly, to fear, to hate and exclude, to remain timid, and to consciously or unconsciously perpetuate dangerous social ills. To read great books later on in life as adults is often too late for accomplishing the kind of change that could be started and unleashed in the beginning.

Because childhood unites all of humanity, children’s literature is potentially one of the most crucial remedies for many of this world’s contemporary social problems. In childhood, a young human being easily sees that other people who are different are exciting and interesting. Unless taught otherwise, the human child—by nature courageous and inquisitive—often wants to know the worlds of others rather than be afraid and negatively judgmental of them.

One only need read any newspaper front page any day of the year, in any country, to know how many of today’s adults around the globe must have grown up with a deficient picture of themselves—a picture that does not show an adult person’s potential for great contributions to the world, including the responsibility to be thoughtful, creative, generous, and genuinely interested and kind toward our home planet as well as all the members of the human family.

It is literature that has the potential to make us know our home and our family members of humanity everywhere. Children’s literature begins that journey. The writers for children have no easy job, and their work cannot be done with half measures. Half the prize amount sends a message that says “not good enough,” a message no child, or anyone caring for children, should ever hear.

History reveals huge inequalities and lesser appreciation for all adults who choose to invest in careers related to children, and especially in writing for children. One must ask if the fact that many women are prominent figures in this field is linked to the long-standing bias, since women continue to face marginalization everywhere, in spite of the many hopeful developments our times have been witnessing.

I believe that this concern must now be brought to the collective conversation toward a much-needed adjustment, and progress. I hope that sooner, rather than later, any and all inequalities will be fully remedied. The specific bridging of the differences in compensation for writers for adults and writers for children can help many adults see that working with children, or for children, is a worthwhile calling, rather than “what one does if one cannot do something better.”

- World Literature Today


 

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