Achieving Authenticity in Childrens Literature

Authenticity of voice is often a topic analyzed in literature. Considering key elements of the character’s identity, such as race, class, gender, or regionalism, how can a writer portray characters which are different from the writer’s own and still achieve authenticity?

While there is a great bit of children’s literature that is story telling, many pieces involve an author placing themselves in different roles in the characters of their stories. The writer of today is called to address many topics and issues that they may never have experienced personally. Consider the topics of abuse, divorce, sexuality, and social issues children of today face. Consider how many others use personification and take on the character of an animal. Taking this even a step further an author may develop characters that come from a completely different background then their own. In considering the contrast of race, gender, wealth, and even culture and geological location, many might question how the author keeps the character believable and well developed.

A key component involved in a genuine character for any author would be research. The author need to delved into the situation, life, culture, values, and find as many characteristics to build and develop an authentic character. This is much easier today than many years ago with the convince of technology, and travel. The world that was once so vast keeps getting smaller and smaller with people traveling and visiting all over. Developing a realistic character not only provides authentic characterization for the reader, but also reaffirms and educates the reader about other issues they might not be as familiar with.

Once an author has found several key examples to pattern a character from they then need to delve in with empathy. They need to consider their background, heritage, hurts, joys and what has shaped them into the character they are. With empathy and careful consideration the character will be understood by the author who can then develop an authentic character that is contrary to their won life experience.

AIO Classroom, Children's Literature | ENG4010 P01. Week 3, Web. 19 November 2011.