Thursday, September 27, 2018

Children in Fiction (or some fall favorites)

Maybe because it's fall, maybe because my kids have gone back to school, but for some reason or another I think of this season as a great time to read books about children. 

...or watch movies about children.  I will be singing this song all day now.

I'm not talking about the YA and middle-grade novels that I pick up randomly throughout the year.  In the fall I'm looking for an adult fiction novel that tells the story of a child or is told from the perspective of a child.  Either will do. 

When I read middle grade or YA I'm thinking about the messages that are intended for a pre-teen/teen audience.  Themes of independence, standing up for something when the odds are against you, and finding community are primarily on display in these books.  Often, the protagonist is compared and contrasted with their peers or called on to save the day. All things that are important parts of teenage development.



But, when I pick up a book that is intended for adults but is about children I find different messages that help me in my everyday interactions with kids.  Reading fiction like this can be as informative as a well-researched non-fiction parenting book.  The children in these books are seen in the context of the world at large and in relation to adults. 

Some things I learn in this type of fiction:  
Adults misunderstand kids.  Kids want to participate in things of deep meaning but often are discredited and don't have a voice.  Children are dynamic in these works--not all good or all bad, but multidimensional with real fears and frustrations and a great capacity for love.  Kids are smart and thoughtful in their actions.  Adults would do better to pay attention a little more closely to the things kids do and say. All things that can help me as I relate to my four children and their friends.  

file under: things I can learn from kids

Here's my list for quality reads about kids written for adults:

Hum If You Don't Know The Words
Based in South Africa...a child deals with horrible trauma in hopeful and realistic ways


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A young girl growing up in Brooklyn during the Great Depression

Ginny Moon
A foster child with autism is trying to fit into a new family while longing for her birth family

The Home for Unwanted Girls
An up-close look at orphanages turned psychiatric hospitals through the eyes of a child

To Kill a Mockingbird (duh)
Scout, a young girl growing up in Alabama, is confronted with injustice and racism


The Glass Castle
A memoir about growing up in poverty but not knowing it

Peace Like a River
Swede and Rueben, a sister and brother, need faith to make an epic journey through the badlands

The Flavia DeLuce series
A precocious, but not annoying, 11-year-old solves mysteries thanks to an interest in chemistry and the macabre

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
Eva (abandoned by her mom) is raised by her dad to love food, a love that influences her whole life

The Impossible Fortress
It's the '80's and Billy is determined to steal a copy of Playboy with Vanna White

News of the World
Johanna is traveling across Texas with a Civil War captain bent on delivering her to her family after she was abducted by Native Americans


Sing Unburied Sing
Jojo is trying to grow up as he watches the imperfect examples of adulthood around him in rural (really rural) Mississippi

Before We Were Yours

Based on real events, the book tells the story of a group of children that were stolen and put into orphanages and then sold to new families

As I was writing this list I kept thinking, "yes, yes, that's a great fall book, yes."  


What do you like to read in the fall?  Anything missing from my list that you would add?

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