Why I Write for Kids 16

December 9, 2013

That title is forgetting something; there will also be gingerbread in house form. Because Christmas. And photos of me writing are just not as fun to look at.

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But first…

Why I write books for kids:

1. It’s wide open. I can write about anything and anywhere and anyone and do it in strange and wonderful ways and my readership is okay with that. They like strange. They are open because they haven’t yet formed a concrete idea of what literature or a novel should be. My possibilities are as vast as their imagination.

2. They make the best audiences to present to. I recently visited several schools for both my books and had a fantastic time, partly because the students were really engaged and enthusiastic and filled with great questions. Kids live in a world where author means something very similar to rock star. That doesn’t happen to me very often, and while it is flattering, it also reminds me that there is something special and awesome about being an author. It’s easy to forget that.

3. Children’s books shape us. At no other time in our lives can reading, and the books we read, have a greater impact on us than before we become an adult. We are figuring the world out, figuring other people and ourselves out, and we need guidance and role models. We find a lot of that in literature. This is one reason why I hate how some adults treat kid lit as a separate genre and wouldn’t be seen reading it on the bus. Just because it’s for kids doesn’t make it dumber or less worthy or less interesting or less complex. It’s crucial for our development into strong and stable adults, and can also enrich the lives of actual adults. We seem to think as grownups that we don’t need reminding of that time anymore, but it is that reminding that is so beneficial to us in a myriad ways. I still tell people who ask what I write that I write books for kids, but I wish I could just say I wrote novels. Period. Because I do. The fact that they are marketed to a younger age group should be irrelevant. Whoa, this has taken a turn onto Rant Avenue, hasn’t it?

4. (And kind of also number 3, but it was getting a little long and intense up there…) Writing from the perspective of a pre-adult reminds me of the important lessons I learned growing up, and also reminds me of what I still need to work on. Maybe all writing does this, but when you are writing about a time when everything is new and the mind is sorting out how and why to be a certain way, you are faced with obvious life-truths that you can’t help reflecting on. Both the protagonists in my books have parts of kid-me in them, and writing those characters was a kind of catharsis. Which is really just a reason to write anything: it reaffirms who you are as a human, continually seeing yourself through the lens of your work.

**puts down pen and picks up icing bag**

And now to the gingerbread housery…hope you’ve got some seasonal goodies to tuck into today. [This was not a completely homemade creation, by the way. God bless Ikea.]

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XO

Ria

16 comments

1 Hannah Tunnicliffe { 12.09.13 at 4:21 am }

NZ has no Ikea. I suddenly feel bereft about this. What a house, little e!
Love this post. Love kids books. Would read them in a bus, on a boat, on a train. I do like them. In the sun, in the rain…
Your job IS awesome and you are awesome at it. X

2 Ria Voros { 12.10.13 at 12:19 am }

Hannah, it was quite a job to convince Little e not to 1) eat all the candy before it made it onto the house and 2) not pick the candy on the house off. But now we have hidden it away so she won’t be tempted every five minutes. I guess we’ll bring it out when it’s safe to destroy and feast…

3 kjerstiye { 12.09.13 at 7:41 am }

I prefer to think that you write for me! You are so very good at it!

Also? Can’t wait to smoosh those lovely e cheeks in a couple of weeks! mwah!

4 Ria Voros { 12.10.13 at 12:20 am }

Thanks, Kirsti! Can’t wait to see you too! In the meantime, I will smoosh the baby cheeks on your behalf.

5 Aimee { 12.09.13 at 6:21 pm }

I love,love reading books for kids! Ria’s rant is so true-adults benefit from exploring themes in literature for children. And I enjoy the straightforward language that many authors use when writing for youth. Like in Ria’s books where it reads more like the spoken word than the written word. Reading a book for children/youth is like going on a reading holiday-all the fun but none of the work lol!
PS I hope you and little e ate as many candies as ended up on the gingerbread house:)

6 Ria Voros { 12.10.13 at 12:22 am }

Thanks, Aimee! I know you’re a reading kindred spirit. There can be refreshing lack of pretense in YA and kidlit, can’t there?

7 Anne Rodrigues { 12.09.13 at 10:49 pm }

I have read some of my daughter’s teen books when she was reading those. I enjoyed them as well because there seemed to be more imagination to them. You could get lost in a whole other world. I have no problem reading kids books if its something I enjoy. Your novel “Nobody’s Dog” is still on my to-be-read list. Nice gingerbread house, by the way.

8 Ria Voros { 12.10.13 at 12:24 am }

Good to hear you’d be an on-the-bus-YA-reader, Anne! 🙂

9 Maegan { 12.10.13 at 1:12 am }

Ria, YES YES YES! Yes young adult IS important. It is my favourite genre to read actually – because of all the important reasons you listed /ranted!

But seriously. You lost me. God bless…Ikea?! Father Christmas tell me I did not just read, on this blog heralding all things creative and homemade, God Bless… IKEA?!?! LOL

10 Ria Voros { 12.10.13 at 4:13 am }

I agree, Maegan! But I have made from-scratch houses before. But when you have a kid, all kinds of things go out the window, including time and energy. And Ikea sells those houses for, like, $5.99. When Little e is big enough to help rather than hinder the baking process, I will once again do it the long/better way! Promise!

11 Louise { 12.10.13 at 1:34 pm }

Fantastic post from a fantastic writer – for all ages! I was especially gladdened by your first point – whenever I’m asked why I read/work with children’s books, this is what it comes down to for me: you can do *anything*, and you have to do it well because younger readers are fierce. So the literature that emerges is…pure, taut magic.

12 Ria Voros { 12.10.13 at 6:52 pm }

Agreed! And I’m so glad you are a gatekeeper of this amazing literature.

13 Jane's Adventures in Dinner { 12.12.13 at 2:15 pm }

We’re making ours this weekend and small one is so excited-children’s books give a sense of wonder and unlock doors for kids that video anything just can’t.

14 Hannah { 12.13.13 at 8:38 am }

Ria, for you to consider. Had a conversation at favourite cafe with a woman about to get her wisdom teeth out. Told her I read all the Harry Potter books out at the time when I had my teeth pulled. Dialogue:
Her: Oh I LOVE Harry Potter! Maybe I should re-read them.
Me: There are so many great YA / kids books out at the moment, you should read (start listing authors)
Her: Oh My God, no! I can’t be seen reading those! Ha ha!
Me: But I read them.
Her: Yeah, but you’re in the industry and you have kids.
Me: *Stumped* *Don’t know where to begin* *Flummoxed*
Can you pretty please write a post on reading kids books, Harry Potter and….BEYOND!!!
Thanks,
Hannah x

15 Ria Voros { 12.13.13 at 4:24 pm }

Firstly, did she consider that she’d be at home suffering through tooth-extraction recovery and therefore not “seen” by anyone? The perfect time to get hooked on kidlit and realize you’ve been a fool not to read it before and become a fervent reader-of-YA-on-buses. Or one can hope.

Sigh.

16 Hannah Tunnicliffe { 12.14.13 at 6:19 pm }

I know, right? I sighed the whole car ride home thinking of a list of reasons to tell her. So many missed worlds and wonders if you don’t read kidlit. Bummer, lady! I’ll gear up to convincing her on my next visit. I’m gonna get all evangelical about kidlit!! Lol!

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