Young People Can Handle It — at the Wisconsin Writers Association

Wisconsin Writers Association Kid Lit Panel - Pat Schmatz, Silvia Acevedo, Melanie Boyung, Jessica Freeburg, and Miranda Paul

Wisconsin Writers Association Kid Lit Panel – Pat Schmatz, Silvia Acevedo, moderator Melanie Boyung, Jessica Freeburg, and Miranda Paul

I had the honor and pleasure of talking on a panel about kid lit at the Wisconsin Writers Association‘s Annual Convention yesterday. Beside me were some of the most talented writers of the day, their works spanning from picture book to young adult novel.

A few of the questions had to do with taboo topics and whether we censor our writing for the sake of our audience. The answer was a universal no to censorship but that, of course, a writer’s presentation is tweaked depending on age range and relevancy to the story. We all agreed that stories are a safe place to explore new worlds and perspectives. Besides, those readers who don’t enjoy a book will self-censor, that is, decide a particular book isn’t for them and put it down. It comes down to choices, which is an integral part of growing up.

Not every book covers deep, heavy topics, but most offer a window to emotional growth. My God Awful Loser is a light read and yet doesn’t gloss over the protagonist’s womanizing. He and other characters eventually learn, with the readers riding their wave, to value those around them.

Do kids need books to teach them such lessons? Perhaps another question is in order: Who remembers reading a book at just the right time and having it profoundly affected their worldview?

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