LeslieJean Anderson's Books for Children
I live within a couple of hours of DisneyWorld, where they say dreams come true! But I know a better place, and it's a lot closer : the children's books in your own house or at the closest library or bookstore.
In this day and age, not all books for children are emotionally satisfying. But there is a need for uplifting books for children, and that is the type that I am compelled to write. It was a children's book that gave me courage when I was a scared and lonely fourteen-year-old girl facing separation from my family. Much later on I found out that the story had been based on a true account of an abandoned child, and in real life it had turned out badly. But in the account I read, the author chose to end the story at the high point of victory and rescue. I often wonder if I would have gained strength from the story if it had ended at the low point.
So I have chosen to end my stories on the upbeat note! I want to emphasize the positive and the possible. And I want children and young people to close my books with a better feeling about themselves and the potential for good in the world. I can't see anything wrong with that! In a class debate, I was reminded that the real world is not that way, and that we set children up for disappointment with "happy-ever-after endings."
But my answer to that is that an upbeat ending is not a "happy-ever-after" ending, and that the real world IS full of uplifting moments and victories. I think it is a good thing to point them out as we write for children and to teach them to look for the positive moments in their own lives. The new field of "positive psychology" teaches us that resilience and happiness is often the result of learned behavior. Recognizing and celebrating victory moments can be modeled and taught. I presented this argument in the academic thesis I wrote for my Master's Degree in 2013 at Hamline University.
So my characters struggle. They suffer. They try and fail, but they learn something. Then they get up and try again. Good things do come about as a result of their efforts. Progress is identified and celebrated. By the end of my books characters change and they find themselves in a better place. Maybe not the place they want to be exactly, but here is hope. There is always, always hope.
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