Good day everyone. Another weekend is in progress and I hope you have some special meals and activities planned around Father's Day. Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful and irreplaceable father's out there.
I am sure your week has been busy and you are looking forward to a little R&R. Me too, big time. I have a special guest blogger here this morning for your enjoyment. Natalie Finnigan will be guest blogging on a regular basis for me and I am sure her words of wisdom will benefit all of us as we first take in her words and then process her words into and our hearts. I want to welcome her to Storywraps and I personally look forward to her contributions and getting to know her as a friend. Here is her first official post for us to enjoy.....
Harsh versus Honest
I’ve always been a believer that you shouldn’t lie to a child. If they’ve asked an honest question, you should give an honest answer – to the best of your ability. This has meant my sister sitting open mouthed as I talked about various subjects to her daughters quite straight forwardly, from birds and bees onwards, but it must have worked as (even though they are now adults) they still come and talk to me about things.
However, I also believe that there is, quite often, a positive and negative way of discussing most subjects, especially the harder facts of life... but being honest doesn’t mean that you have to be harsh. There is a difference! So yes, I have talked about where the supermarket packaged chicken comes from to my 3 year old son (yes, it is farmers chickens, live ones...no these aren’t made from different chickens) etc. The difference is between being truthful and not hiding life’s harsh realities but gently easing a child into understanding that the world can be a difficult place, and confronting them head on with life’s cruel realities.
What makes me say this? Well, I’ve written a couple of children’s books about the tougher stuff...separation, children’s long term illness, adoption, autism etc... and I’ve read books by others that cover similar stuff...bullying, circle of life etc... but reading a “children’s book” that makes me sit up and say “You can’t write that!!” means it must have been shocking. Personal opinion, but anything that shocking to an adult might not be a suitable content for a child!!
Yes, in a circle of life book, sometimes the characters do die, and there is no coming back. It’s an important concept to address as this does happen in life but in a book aimed at 3-5year olds, I really wasn’t comfortable with making it the fault of the child’s bad behaviour! Harsh, not honest!!
So please, when selecting a book to read to your young child about something potentially difficult: death, divorce, illness, bullying – please read it first to make sure you’re not about to verbally smack them in the face with reality. There is a time when harsh reality is necessary (do not step in front of that moving car or you might die) and when it’s not, and in young children’s literature, it’s really not necessary. Try to choose something that is honest and straightforward, that deals with the issues, but isn’t about to burden them unnecessarily with guilt or nightmares. If you’re a children’s author, yes, you’re right, we shouldn’t patronise or talk down to our target audience, especially children, but, similarly, they are still children, please write sensitively and responsibly!
Natalie Finnigan was born in Suffolk, England, and re-discovered her love for writing rhymes after the birth of her son, Alex, in 2010. Having already published two short, rhyming picture books based on three characters (Alex, Dragon and Spider), Natalie is enjoying branching out into other picture books and is currently writing a pre-teen novel to be used as a teaching text for English as a Foreign Language.
Thanks so much Natalie. This is the first of many posts to come and we will eagerly look forward to what you have to say. Everyone, please have a wonderful weekend and remember to read on and read always! See you back here Monday with more exciting books that I can offer to you that will stimulate and install the love of reading in your children.