I’ve been sharing my readers’ responses to my July 10th blog about excluding adults from our stories. Here’s a response from Dallas Bradel:
It may seem as if an author is empowering children by communicating that kids can solve their own problems, but I believe these authors, however well-meaning, are doing a disservice to their readers. Children need, and need to recognize that they need, the guidance, instruction, love, support, and presence of adults in their lives in order to fully develop their potential as human beings. It obviously takes children a great many years to mature physically, mentally, and emotionally, and they can only master certain tasks as their bodies are ready to do so, and as their environment equips them to do so. The love and support of adults in a child’s life helps the child develop not only life skills, but also identity, confidence, and empathy. We cheer them along as they progress one step at a time towards eventual independence.
Yesterday I finished reading Gary Schmidt’s book First Boy. The newly orphaned protagonist is struggling against all odds to keep his grandparents’ dairy farm. And while he is a courageous, hard-working dairy man himself, his 14-year-old body simply cannot succeed in running the farm without help, especially while he continues to go to school. Help comes from two neighbors and his best friend’s family, people who demonstrate their love by coming alongside him in his struggle to fulfill his dream, and by protecting him from evil adults who seek to take advantage of the boy’s predicament.
I agree with everything Dallas has said here, but she had more to say. She also challenged the technique I have been using lately to feed a story through an adult narrator. And that’s a topic I’ll look at next week.