Come into the Light – Darkness in Children’s books
Some people may be aware of the rampant debate taking place at the moment about darkness in Young Adult and Children’s books so I thought I best weigh in.
To briefly summarise, a woman in a bookstore was confronted by hundreds of lurid and dramatic book covers and found nothing appropriate for her daughter. Young Adult books are accused of having no joy or beauty in them, only dark images of our world. Each year the American Library Association publishes a list of the most frequently challenged books, on which The Hunger Games is currently appearing. I’m finishing the last book in The Hunger Games at the moment and I think the themes in it are terrific and the violence etc is very much justified. It is no Chaos Walking trilogy but it is definitely addictive reading.
I think everything that can be said about this debate has been said, but of course I’m sure my million and twenty four fans out there are wondering What does Nathan Luff think about this? Well, thank you for asking. I can tell you that with much sarcasm I am in complete agreement that books are too dark these days. I mean imagine having a book cover that is dramatic? I personally think drama does not belong in a story. I’m sick of characters being challenged and facing real fears. Because of this I have written a story below for the woman in the bookshop to give to her daughter. The poor little girl, she would go to the shop herself but the bubblewrap dress she wears chafes badly when she walks.
A Story of Light by Nathan Luff
The beautiful girl opened her eyes and was blinded temporarily by the light. A butterfly flittered into her vision and she smiled. It was a cute butterfly with the body of a miniscule puppy instead of the gross insect bodies that they had back in the dark ages.
Suddenly a figure approached, coming fast towards her. The beautiful girl, whose name was Sophia, turned to face her visitor. She breathed a sigh of relief upon realising it was only her mother, laden with diet-approved cookies that had been modified to produce no crumbs.
‘I was scared,’ Sophia said, ‘I couldn’t see properly because of the light and I thought you might be something out to get me, like a cold breeze or a falling hatstand.’
They laughed together with much joy for four and a half hours.
‘Oh Sophia, you silly little duck, your imagination gets away on you; we haven’t had a falling hatstand since they banned anyone using freestanding objects. You must stop frightening yourself like that.’
‘I’m sorry mum. I’ll try to keep my fear at bay.’ Sophia said.
‘Good girl. Now, shall we skip around the park together for a while?’
‘Oh yes please.’
• in the original version of this story a pack of monkeys appeared at this stage and ate the rest of the cookie before Sophia had a chance but I worried this might be too dramatic, especially because people will already have in their minds the dark image of a falling hatstand.