"Through books, children learn to cope more constructively with complex emotions like fear and jealousy or stressful experiences like starting school or moving to a new neighborhood."
"By reading about other children and their lives, they take comfort in knowing they are not alone."
"Books can form a vital springboard for parent-child discussion." http://family-friendly-fun.com/children/books/
Children who have read my books report that they have helped them in many ways, because the characters are, as they say, "just like me," and "have the same problems I do." A girl who read Danny's Dragon wrote, "I knew Danny's feelings very well. He acted exactly like I did when I lost my father." A renowned reviewer said that Danny's Dragon should be in every school and library. It isn't of course. Too many teachers and librarians feel they must protect their students from reading about war and death even though thousands of children, like Danny, have lost a parent in war.
My hope in writing my books is that young readers can realize that their feelings about the situation they are in and the problems they have are valid and to help them release dangerously pent-up emotion without shame; to be able to discuss their problems by being able to relate them to a fictional character; to see that drugs are dangerous and lead only to trouble, to see that sexual exploitation is wrong and not their fault; that it is okay to shun and report the perpetrator, and to protect themselves. In Kyleah's Tree especially, I sought to dispell the "beauty myth," that negatively impacts so many of today's children, even in elementary school; the belief that they must be "beautiful" in order to be loved and accepted.
Many authors, in the interest of child victims, write beautiful, poignant, and therapeutic fictional accounts of problems that real kids must face. But too often those books are kept from the hands of children by well-meaning adults who believe it will hurt kids to read about the very issues that plague them. "An Inmate's Daughter," a book my company published, is a prime example. 2.5 million children live with the separation, stigma, loneliness, confusion, guilt, shame, and pain of having one or both parents in prison or jail. It is a book that should be in every classroom, and library. Is it? No, only a small percentage of those who could best benefit from reading this book by compassionate and knowledgeable authors and veteran educator, Jan Walker, have had access to it. I fear that far too many of the books that deal with real life issues are being kept from the eyes and minds of children who need them by well-meaning adults who want to protect them from unpleasant themes, not realizing the kids and their peers are living those themes, and that reading about them could be a great comfort.
By the way, I am looking again at the episode involving the BIA. Your take on it is far from what I intended. I see the Indian policeman as a concerned and caring man with the intention of protecting his jurisdiction from drugs. I still don't see where you found the implication that he was "corrupt with drugs," but I will keep looking for it and make sure that the policeman's intentions are clearly honorable in future editions.
Today's children are tomorrows adults. They hold the future of the world in their hands. If they are denied a view of the problems that confront their fellow human beings and do not develop a compassion for the downtrodden, the corruption and abuse that goes on today will only continue.
Thanks for giving me the chance to see my work from your point of view. It has given me pause; a time to reflect on what I am doing and decide whether I want to change my course. I am grateful for criticism, which lends me principles to keep in mind in my future writing. Hearing your viewpoint, although, on the whole, I don't concur with it, will serve to sharpen my sensitivity as I continue to write true-to-life stories.