Talking Down To Kids

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children” Madeleine L’Engle

Adults always seem to talk down to kids. As a child, I remember that I hated that. It was like I was stupid, and the only way I could comprehend the message was for the adult speaking to me (not with) was to use small words, speak in a louder voice at a slower pace. For me, I rejected the information, and the individual imparting it. Recognizing life over time offers lessons and sometimes wisdom, as a kid, I understood that I could learn from my elders. But talking down to me made me think that person assumed I was stupid. That means that I’m not curbing my vocabulary or complexity when speaking or writing to children. For the most part, it has served me well in connecting with the kids in my life.

I read a lot. I read middle-grade books, and the marketplace has dictated that the vocabulary in those books is elevated in comparison to say books I’ve read for adults. Comparing Thomas Harris to JK Rowling for vocabulary and prose, I would put forward that Harry Potter is a more accomplished literary work. Written for kids doesn’t mean stupid and doesn’t need the language muted.

I feel Madeleine L’Engle had a view on the minds of the young. That they were more capable to digest ideas and thoughts outside the normal than an adult. So, when I write for young minds, I write knowing they can handle anything I can imagine. I’m not going to dumb it down and disrespect the audience I seek. Instead, I will write in the confidence that challenging their minds will be rewarded. They will recognize you treated them with respect.