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Writing for Today’s Child September 12, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.

This past summer my son in elementary school spent a Saturday visiting a friend in a small town. When he came home, he said, “It was so great! You could drive your bike all over town, and there were kids everywhere. Everybody knew everybody, and nobody cared that we were just a couple of kids running around by ourselves. Mom, we should move there!”

We haven’t moved, but I understand what he was saying. I spent most of my childhood in towns like that. We live in a large city now, and I rarely see children outside playing. Children live in our neighborhood, but they spend most of their time either inside, at day care, or in organized sports–not in unstructured play unaccompanied by adults.

Recently, one of my friends received feedback from a New York editor about a children’s book she had written. The editor basically said, “This sounds as if it was written in the fifties. Today’s children don’t roam around unsupervised the way they used to.”

From what I’ve seen in the cities I’ve lived in (Kansas City, Lincoln, and Des Moines), this rings true, but as my son saw this past summer, some small towns still offer children autonomy. Once my son experienced it, he wanted to move!

All of which makes me think perhaps the New York publisher should have published my friend’s book. If children have never experienced the carefree living of a small town, they might, at the very least,  like to read about it. Isn’t that what books are supposed to do, open another world?



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