Dear Book Lovers,

Those of us who write for children are told in writing workshops that the child-hero must solve the problem. I have no quarrel with that. The books are for kids and children need to see other children learning and solving problems. It will help them believe that they too can learn and solve problems.

But I’m seeing a number of books for teens and children that go way beyond this healthy approach. For example, in the first book of an adventure series a fourteen-year-old returned to his home after his adventure and discovered that his home was a vacant lot. He was then told that his family wasn’t really his family and they were now gone because he didn’t need them any more.

Publishers probably think they are giving kids a welcomed fantasy—parents are irrelevant. Kids might enjoy reading one such book. It’s fun for kids to try on adulthood vicariously and practice managing their lives on their own. Such a story may even encourage them to take a step toward autonomy that they have been afraid to take. But I think reading story after story with this underlying message will not empower kids. It will not increase their self-confidence. I think it will make them wonder why they have to be on their own. I think they will wonder if they have to pretend that they are superkids. What do you think?

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