Children’s Books Reflect Harsh Reality

In class, we have argued many times on the topic of what is considered “appropriate” in children’s literature. We have also read a wide range of books with content ranging from Alice in Wonderland’s fantastical adventures and Where the Wild Things Are‘s wild adventures to Bud, not Buddy’s search for a home. In both Alice and Where, the protagonists chose to go on an adventure and chose to return home whenever they want to. In contrast, Bud chronicles the journey of an unfortunate child. This content difference is what this article expanded upon. It captured the new trend where children’s literature reflects the harsh reality rather than the happy-go-lucky childhood exhibited in 20th century novels. Children are depicted as taking on many adult characteristics, which the article dubbed “adultification”. Adults, on the other hand, are portrayed as irresponsible, absent, and ineffective. There is a reversal in child and adult roles in the modern literature. Coraline serves as the perfect example. In this novel, Coraline’s parents are ineffective and irresponsible. They are not playing the proper role of the “parents” and to protect their daughter. Instead, Coraline must save her parents.

This new trend is based on an “analysis of award-winning children’s literature…being told to young people today, where there is no yellow brick road to follow, the wild things are in the child’s real home and there are no hot meals” (Hill).

If this trend is to continue, how will childhood be impacted by harsh and dark children’s literature?



Hill , Amelia. “Children’s books reflect harsh reality.” The Guardian. N.p., 6 2012. Web. 15 Nov 2012. <>.