On writing for children

Maurice Sendak and JRR Tolkien on the children and their books

“I don’t write for children,” Maurice Sendak scoffed in his final interview. “I write – and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’”

“It is an error,” wrote J.R.R. Tolkien seven decades earlier in his superb meditation on fantasy and why there’s no such thing as writing for children, “to think of children as a special kind of creature, almost a different race, rather than as normal, if immature, members of a particular family, and of the human family at large.” Indeed, books that bewitch young hearts and tickle young minds aren’t “children’s books” but simply great books – hearts that beat in the chest of another, even if that chest is slightly smaller.

Illustration from Where the Wild Things are by Maurice Sendak

With acknowledgement to: Brain Pickings Weekly ‪<newsletter@brainpickings.org>‬

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