As adults we have a moral duty to show children the right way to conduct their lives, to instil a sense of decency that will stay with those in our care until, hopefully, they pass those values on to the next generation.
As a writer of children’s literature, you might be tempted to use your work as a tool to influence young minds in positive ways. There is nothing wrong with this, but do try to avoid leaving your readers feeling as if they are being lectured.
Tip 22 – Papa Don’t Preach
Ethical lessons should be subtle. If the moral of the story is shown through actions, as opposed to the narrator telling the reader what to think, children are far more likely to absorb the message. Talking down to them will switch your readers off, and could even destroy their pleasure in reading.
Try using humour to get your point across. A child will remember a joke months after he first heard it, but will forget to wash his hands before meals, even though he is told the same thing every day.
If you want to write a story tackling depressing subjects such as drug addiction, family abuse or bullying, it is important to write it so that your readers are left with a feeling of hope. Having the hero find a way of dealing with the problems in his life will achieve far more than if your readers are left thoroughly depressed at the end.
Perhaps the best way of dealing with the issue of moral lessons is not to set out to write one, but to allow your story to progress naturally. If there is a moral in your tale, it will find a way to get itself heard and understood.
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