Clinical psychologist writes book on how to create realistic children’s literature

Clinical psychologist writes book on how to create realistic children’s literature

Clinical psychologist writes book on how to create realistic children’s literature

Clinical psychologist writes book on how to create realistic children’s literature

By Mary Lou Austin, PhD

What’s in a name?

Well, when writing books that appeal to children, it’s easy to get caught up in the abstract.

Think about how many children’s books read are full of fantasy with names like Prince Charming and “The Princess and the Pea.” These works do catch your attention.

However, “realistic” books should not mean “kids-only,” but should tell universal stories with heartfelt and relatable situations.

A crucial concern for many parents has been creating more realistic, interactive books for children to read. This idea can be hard for a professional to understand as children typically need to be exposed to the events occurring in stories before it will become authentic for them.

This is especially true for popular fantasy titles, such as Corgi and Chipmunks, which focus on superpowers and uncontrollable flights.

Dr. Laura Robbins, who authored “Realistic Children’s Literature,” provides the following tips for how to create a more realistic plot and characters.

When creating stories, have the story be interactive and believable. Realistically, what would happen if children got lost in a huge, tricky monster land or have to escape from a house where they have been abused? By placing clues and hard luck ending scenarios in the story, parents can bridge the gap between concepts and character development in the story. Tie the story to your child’s real world experiences. Think of the characters and the setting in real life. Does the “monster” sound familiar? This will help children identify with the characters’ fears. Align each story to real life. Every story can have predictable characters. However, the story of your children’s life will be more realistic if you “follow-up” with a true difficult situation that they were able to deal with and overcome. Make your words realistic. Common words such as “fire” and “fireman” can make or break the believability of the books. If parents use odd words such as “graveyard” or “dread,” they may misread “realistic” points on the graphs. Take extra steps to assure readers that your messages are told without bias. Make sure parents use their real names, voices and talk about situations the way they really experience them. This method of talking about and reflecting real life events helps children truly see their world through these characters’ eyes.

This is where Dr. Robbins’ work on “Realistic Children’s Literature” can be valuable. When approaching story ideas, she does not just limit her ideas to children’s adventure books or fairy tales. Instead, she delves deep into the psychology of human behavior and gives readers a different way to view these stories.

She does this by looking to the fictional elements and work of famous psychologists, from Viktor Frankl to Walden Pond, and delves into their personal experiences. Dr. Robbins combines authentic stories with useful advice, and believes that adults should place very similar principles in their children’s books.

Reviewing the characters’ specific experiences and factors that may be difficult for children to relate to help parents determine if the books are right for their kids. As children have the opportunity to read real-life scenarios, they can learn by using their imaginations and not using a “proper adult voice.”

Dr. Robbins did a wonderful job of showing how creating realistic story lines with great images can boost the reader’s development, while exploring these ideas expands the mind’s ability to adapt and grow.

Realistic stories for children can be anything from animal literature to religion, this will only make their reading experience more wonderful.

Dr. Mary Lou Austin, PhD, is the author of “Realistic Children’s Literature,” a book about how to create believable characters that speak to the real world. It is not intended to replace traditional children’s literature or literature meant for adults. Dr. Austin is a clinical psychologist, clinical associate professor in the Chicago Psychoanalytic Center of Art & Sciences and adjunct instructor in the psychology doctoral program at DePaul University.

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