This is one of my favorite lines.
I’m sure we’ve all heard some variation of this line from different sources. I first heard it from my Mom. It is the reason I write Children’s Stories, MG Stories, and YA Stories. It’s the reason books intended for a young audience are some of my favorites.
Life is hard. Life is often scary.
Children can’t be protected from everything. It’s impossible to keep evil influences and harm from your children. You are only one human being. You can’t be there when nightmares come. You can’t be there when they make stupid decisions that put them in dark places. You can’t be there every waking moment. And, you shouldn’t be. Children don’t grow up by being protected.
Children can be armed.
Children can be trained. Children can be groomed for the fight that is this life.
Stories are a great way to prepare kids for the things they will face as they go out in the world.
I’m not really into Issue Driven fiction. I wasn’t as a kid, and I don’t write it. I read and write Fantasy. Why? How does that help Children be Brave?
Fantasy gives kids and young adults something fun to read that they can hold onto while also escaping the hardships or humdrum around them. As a pre-teen, I had no interest in reading about kids struggling with drugs. I did want to read every Hardy Boys I could get my hands on. I didn’t want to read about someone’s sparkly boyfriend, but I did want to read about Sam and Frodo’s struggles through Mordor.
Then I grew up. I grew up and found out I wasn’t going to solve crimes, or be asked to go on some epic adventure. I was going to get married, co-own a business with my husband, struggle in my marriage, struggle with infertility, sell our business, learn to manage my home, have health issues, and then stand shoulder to shoulder with my husband as he took on a pastorate. None of that is as thrilling as journeying through Moria, or fighting the great and evil General Woundwort, or sailing with Fin Button.
But it is all hard.
What has encouraged me, outside of Scripture? What has the Lord used during dark days?
When things are dark and hard, I am reminded of all my heroes who carried on. I’m reminded of all the warriors I’ve read of, big and small, strong and weak. I’m reminded of Sam, my favorite hero, only a gardener far from home. I’m reminded of Bigwig who followed Hazel faithfully, even though he was stronger than Hazel. I’m reminded of Jane Eyre, who did what was right when it hurt. I recall story after story after story that my Mom read to me, handed to me, recommend to me, where the heroes didn’t stop. They kept moving forward. They kept pushing. They endured to the end.
This is the gift I want to give to others. I want other children, pre-teens, and teens to be able to read Jonah’s story, and then look at their normal, ordinary struggles and carry on. I want my faerie stories to be encouraged them to keep fighting even when it hurts. I want them to have heroes who defeat the dragons…or in my case the clowns. 😉
I want to write stories that help kids be brave before they have to be, because they will have to be some day, probably sooner rather than later.