Unlike earlier generations, children in the 21st Century have gained exposure to a world of books more like their own increasingly complex lives. Writers, therefore, must remain aware and sensitive to the evolving needs of the young consumers. At the same time, parents can do their part in being aware of, monitoring and selecting the right kind of material for their children. To meet the demands of the cultural shift in the world of children’s books, it is important they have authenticity. To accomplish this, writers must impress, inform, and inspire with material free from their own personal biases. Here are some ways parents can help to keep that objectivity:
Historically, children’s book authors have used anthropomorphized personification to appeal to their readers through nature and animals. Children will relate to the human elements in these animal characters and respond accordingly.
However, every child is not of the same background and not familiar with the same things because of different experiences. Although this is the case, there are common traits to which most children will relate or can recognize that are universally popular.
In the other instances where traits are different, parents can help to explain cultural nuances. Similarly, they can explain when real people are involved in performances.
One important tricky aspect is to avoid the use of stereotypes. In a multicultural society, people have different characteristics—speech, manner, appearance, habits, and preferences.
Writers must portray characters accurately to remain authentic.
Parents should be responsible to ensure children receive the information correctly without including limiting biases or bigotry absorbed from previous generations.
For instance, are there realistic examples, such as homeless people in the stories? Are they portrayed realistically as people without homes?
Do the speech patterns vary because people are not equal or because they have different origins? Can men and women do the same jobs?
Does the writer use appropriate language to describe the identities of the characters or is there cultural or gender-bias?
The more realistic portrayals writers include in the books, the more authenticity will be present. Parents can do their part to inform and impress their children objectively, so that they develop valuable learning experiences while heightening their self-awareness. The more authenticity the children absorb from neutral writers combined with personal reactions from trusted parents, the easier it can be for children to develop positive and wholesome personal enhancement from the stories.