Finding Hope in Children’s Lit

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When life gets you down, one easy way to find a new perspective is to pick up a children’s chapter book. There are a lot of traditions in children’s literature that revolve around, “fear of abandonment,” in order to let a child grow where fear might prevent them. What children’s literature often does, and does well, is portray a helpless character whose parents are either divorced, unloving, struggling, or nonexistent. The adults in the book then tear the child away from their comfort zone, offer them near-impossible tasks, and then leave the child to survive through their own few resources.

“You can’t possibly be talking about children’s books,” you might say.

Oh, but I am. And sometimes parents need these books, too. Insurmountable odds and adults making irresponsible decisions is key in the history of children’s literature and carries children through some of the most terrifying transitions of their lives.

Think I’m wrong? Take a look at these examples.

The Orphaned Child

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
  2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  3. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  4. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  5. Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart
  6. The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  7. The BFG by Roald Dahl
  8. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  9. The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
  10. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

The Incompetent Caregiver

  1. Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  2. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  3. Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
  4. Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
  5. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  6. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  7. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi
  8. The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
  9. Holes by Louis Sachar
  10. Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

The Lost Child

  1. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  2. Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M. Barrie
  3. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  4. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
  5. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
  6. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  7. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
  8. The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill
  9. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
  10. The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari

The Outcast

  1. George by Alex Gino
  2. The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessy
  3. Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
  4. Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper
  5. Wonder by R.J. Palaccio
  6. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
  7. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  8. The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepherd
  9. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  10. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
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