Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Quote File: Writing for Children and Young Adults

  • “The characters in a children’s book must reach into the heart of the reader on page one. Emotional content is the main reason a child and a parent will go back to a book again and again.” — Rosemary Wells
  • “The children’s writer not only makes a satisfactory connection between [the writer’s] present maturity and his past childhood, he also does the same for his child-characters in reverse — makes the connection between their present childhood and their future maturity. That their maturity is never visibly achieved makes no difference; the promise of it is there.” — Philippa Pearce
  • "[A young adult novel] ends not with happily ever after, but at a new beginning, with the sense of a lot of life yet to be lived." – Richard Peck
  • "I think all readers, young and old, in any place or time, want to be told a story, the thousand variations of 'Once upon a time' ... Styles change, slang changes, the music they love changes -- but the emotions of childhood and adolescence never change." – Robert Cormier
  • "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." – C. S. Lewis
  • “That adolescent me, the girl who was, as I remember her, insecure, unsure, dreaming, yearning, longing, that girl who was hard on herself, who was cowardly and brave, who was confused and determined—that girl who was me—still exists. I call on her when I write. I am the me of today—the person who has become a woman, a mother, a writer. Yet I am the me of all those other days as well. I believe in the reality of that past.” — Norma Fox Mazer
  • "Who are children anyway? A boy of three, a girl of six, a boy of ten, a girl of fourteen--are they all to like the same thing? And is a book 'suitable for a boy of twelve' any more likely to please a boy of twelve than a modern novel is likely to please a man of thirty-seven; even if the novel be described truly as 'suitable for a man of thirty-seven'? I confess that I cannot grapple with these difficult problems. But I am very sure of this; that no-one can write a book which children will like, unless he write it for himself first ... Read in it what you like; read it to whomever you like; be of what age you like; it can only fall into one of the two classes. Either you will enjoy it or you won't." – A. A. Milne
  • "Children read books, not reviews. They don't give a hoot about the critics.... They ... don't read to free themselves of guilt, to quench their thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation.... They ... still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.... They don't expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that it is not in his power. Only the adults have such childish illusions." – Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • "There are good books which are only for adults, because their comprehension presupposes adult experiences, but there are no good books which are only for children." – W. H. Auden
  • "Is it better to reveal the snares and pitfalls of life to the young and thoughtless traveller, or to cover them with branches and flowers? O Reader! if there were less of this delicate concealment of facts--this whispering 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace, there would be less of sin and misery to the young of both sexes who are left to wring their bitter knowledge from experience." – Anne Bronte, preface to the second edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • “Only as we give children the truth about life can we expect any improvement in it.” — Mabel Louise Robinson
  • "I believe that kids as well as adults are entitled to books of no socially redeeming value." – R. L. Stine
  • “Sure, it’s simple, writing for kids. Just as simple as bringing them up.” — Ursula K. Le Guin

2 comments:

  1. Hi Brooklyn,

    This is a fantastic list of quotes. The difference between writing for YA and plain old A is a tough one to pin down - but this helped. Thanks!

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