Hello! This week we're welcoming a new Affiliate Blogger to the League, Leigh Ann Kopans. She has a great series for us all this week, so, without further ado, here's Leigh Ann!
Why is so much of children’s fiction speculative?
When I look at the top Young Adult and Middle Grade bestselling books on Amazon, almost every single one involves otherworldly stuff: Outer space, apocalypses, dragons, dystopias, zombies, sorcerers, or monsters. In contrast, less than half of the adult titles do. Why the disparity? Why are children so much more inclined to read and enjoy speculative fiction than adults?
It’s fun, engaging, and lets them escape!
For many children who read a lot, the real world is far from complicated – which also means that it’s boring. It’s funny for kids to imagine their teacher is really an undercover Fury, like in THE LIGHTNING THIEF, or that their nanny could transport them to another world via chalk drawing, like in MARY POPPINS. Maybe their regular, boring school is just temporary, because when they turn eleven, they’ll be getting their letter from Hogwarts.
At the same time, speculative fiction spins everyday occurrences into spectacular metaphors – for example, a parent with strict rules about chores becomes Cinderella’s evil stepmother. Kids’ heightened emotions and penchant for drama have suddenly found a context in which they are normal.
It helps their imaginations grow
When children see elements of what they know – the tail of a fish and the upper body of a human can combine to create a mermaid, for example - they start to learn to look at the whole world as a possibility, rather than something they have to accept just the way it is.
Reading speculative fiction is a lesson in spinning the elements of reality into a world that doesn’t exist, or doesn’t exist yet – and all the things that would happen in that world. Speculative fiction nurtures budding creative minds, and kids’ growing brains hold tight to the opportunity to do that.
It helps kids deal with real life in a less painful way.
Yes, Harry Potter is dealing with the loss of his parents and growing up in an unfamiliar world and battling the darkest evil out there - but Harry Potter’s world isn’t real. (Or, if it is, we can’t see it, or go there.) Speculative fiction, like any good children’s literature, deals with the search for identity and place in the world, but some of the potentially more painful elements – death, poverty, disappointing one’s family – are framed in a way that lets kids touch them, examine them, deal with them, without it feeling too raw.
It Helps Develop Character and Morality
Speculative Fiction does just that – Speculate. It frames tough what-if questions into situations that are far enough removed from real life to let kids grapple with them. As in Beth Revis’s ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, what would you do if you were faced with the tough choice that is presented to Elder at the end? (No spoilers!)
By observing kids their own age taking on tough choices in leadership, friendship, and relationships, younger readers can ask themselves what they would do in such a situation – without the choice being real enough to actually apply to their real lives. This lets them answer in a variety of ways, feeling out what they would do while sparing themselves judgment.
Have you noticed that the younger set is more apt to like Speculative Fiction than other age groups? Why do you think that is?
Leigh Ann Kopans is May's Affiliate Blogger. To find out more about our guest author positions here at the League, click here.
Raised on comic books and classic novels, Leigh Ann developed an early love of science fiction and literature. As an adult, she rediscovered her love for not only reading, but also writing the types of fiction that enchanted her as a teen. Her debut novel, ONE, is about a girl with only half a superpower, the boy who makes her fly, and her struggle to make herself whole.
Leigh Ann, her husband, and four children live in Columbus, Ohio. When she’s not immersed in the world of fiction, you can find her obsessing over the latest superhero movie or using her kids as an excuse to go out for ice cream (again.)
by Leigh Ann Kopans
When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.
It makes you a One.
Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.
If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.
Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.
Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.