Why I Love to Write for Children
When my daughter was about six or so, we were walking in a forest. It was mid morning. She paused, looked up through the trees and saw the faint outline of a moon in the sky. She turned to me, wary and suspicious. “That should not be there,” she said. I was reminded of a similar feeling I had had at about the same age. I was walking home from school on my own, because that was still something six year olds could do, back then. Cutting across a park, I saw what was probably a carpet of mist and dew caused by English fog. I was certain, however, that it was an endless network of spider-like webs, suffocating the world. I ran home as fast as I could to report evidence of an alien landing and when I found my house empty, I was so certain of the danger that I charged next door and asked our neighbours to call the police.
What do these two stories demonstrate? That for kids, the rules by which the world works have not yet set in stone. Nothing is certain. Beyond the apparent reality of things, other truths may be hiding. The moon can decide to come out during the daytime, signalling the unnatural onset of night. Aliens can carpet our world with webs. The world we think we know can transform itself to the magical, sinister or dangerous at a moment’s notice.
And this, more than anything else, is why writing for children is the most freeing, the most inspirational form of writing I could possibly imagine.