Did anyone else catch Pamela Paul’s terrific article in The New York Times Sunday Book Review about the growing ranks of grown-ups who are hooked on reading YA? She cited the stat that nearly 20 percent of 35-to-44-year-olds say they most frequently buy YA books…for themselves.
I loved some of the reasons her interviewees gave as to why they’re YA addicts…
1. “Adult literature is all art and no heart.”
2. “Good YA is like good television…there’s a freshness there; it’s engaging.
3. “YA authors aren’t writing about middle-aged anomie or disappointed people.”
4. “…YA is one of the few areas of literature right now where storytelling really thrives.”
5. “….the books have this wonder in everyday things that isn’t bogged down by excessively grown-up concerns or the need to be subtle or coy.”
6. “There’s an immediacy in the prose.”
This got me wondering: Are these similar to the reasons why I choose to write for children? I’m not sure I agree with number 1, but I’d definitely add numbers 2 through 6 to my list.
I have other reasons, yes, but they’re not nearly as interesting as those given by Isaac Bashevis Singer, when he accepted the National Book Award in 1970, which I found online.*
“Why I Write for Children” by Isaac Bashevis Singer
There are five hundred reasons why I began to write for children, but to save time I will mention only ten of them.
Number 1. Children read books, not reviews. They don’t give a hoot about the critics.
Number 2. Children’ don’t read to find their identity.
Number 3. They don’t read to free themselves of guilt, to quench their thirst for rebellion, or to get rid of alienation.
Number 4. They have no use for psychology.
Number 5. They detest sociology.
Number 6. They don’t try to understand Kafka or Finnegan’s Wake.
Number 7. They still believe in God, the family, angels, devils, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other such obsolete stuff.
Number 8. They love interesting stories, not commentaries, guides, or footnotes.
Number 9. When a book is boring, they yawn openly, without any shame or fear of authority.
Number 10. They don’t expect their beloved writer to redeem humanity. Young as they are, they know that is not in his power. Only the adults have such childish illusions.
Some list, huh?
So, Paper Wait readers, I’d love to know: Why do you write for children?
*Reprinted in Nobel Lecture, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1978.