The Importance of Literature in Kid's Lives
Author Ilana Waters, who writes middle grade fiction, discusses why books are such a NECESSARY component to EVERY child's life.
Today, I’ve been asked to guest blog on the importance of literature in young people’s lives.
This is a great topic—and a timely one. Every time there’s a change in the publishing industry, we all start wondering what it will mean for the future of kids’ books. Will e-readers mean they read less or more? Is the current obsession with YA overshadowing the potential for great MG material? But I don’t know how often we actually ask ourselves, ‘Why is it important to get kids reading in the first place?’
I could offer answers I imagine educators would give. That kids need to learn how to assess language and information. How to deconstruct it, analyze it, use it to communicate. That they need books to learn how to reason and think critically. And although the former answers are very important, I feel there’s something they need from literature even more.
Kids need books so they can have hope.
Hope that they can rise above their circumstances, if they’re in crappy ones. Hope to find out who they are, if they’re unsure. Hope that the world will get better, even when all the evidence suggests that it won’t.
There’s a picture on my bulletin board—one you may have seen or heard of before. It shows a little boy in front of a brick wall. The wall is covered in graffiti epithets, curses, and filth. It looks like he’s in an alley full of nothing but garbage. But the boy is standing on a pile of books, and able to look over the wall. Above and beyond it is a fantastical world, with a lush, green island, magnificent castles, and soaring hot air balloons. It is covered by a brilliant blue sky and cradled by a deep, sapphire ocean. Below the picture is this caption:
‘Books. That is exactly how they work.’
I have no idea who came up with the artwork—or the quotation. But I do know that without hope, without inspiration, without joy, no other learning can take place. So that’s why I think children’s literature is so important. To motivate anyone who reads it to stand on those books and reach that better world.
About the Author: Ilana Waters is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey. When not creating content for websites, she can be found working on fiction—as well as nibbling string cheese. She once pet-sat an electric eel, and enjoys walking in circles around the park for no particular reason.
Her first book—is a middle-grade fantasy. It is available at , , , , and . Ilana is currently writing Book II of the Hartlandia trilogy, due out in 2013.
Where to Find the Author