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Writing fiction for middle grade from a Permies point of view

 
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C.S. Lewis said, "We don't need more Christian books, we need more books written by Christians." I get it. Viewpoint is everything and if we are going to spread the word about permaculture ideas, there is no better place to start than with kids. They don't know anything! I was a school teacher for several years, then decided to stay home with my kids and homeschool. Now that they are all grown I've been subbing middle and upper grades for the last year and I'm shocked at what kids DON'T know. Book stuff, yes. Practical knowledge and skills, no. Knowledge of how the world really works, pretty much zero. And this is a large school school district with an A rating!

A few years ago I wrote a middle grade novel about a girl growing up on a CSA farm but never really finished it. Now that I realize the need for positive impact books, (much of middle grade and young adult literature is quite dark and hopeless) I've put my little story on the front burner. I'm doing the final revisions now, and though writing well is SO much harder than I thought it would be, I'm determined to complete it.

So what about it writers? Let's do a blitz of kid books and start infecting little brains, and big, half-grown brains, with good things. They need it more than you know.
 
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I agree wholeheartedly. And it's not even difficult to brainstorm story ideas that could be fleshed out. Just think of classic children's and young adult's fiction from the last, oh, three hundred years or so.

I mean, some already show elements of permacultural design, like Robinson Crusoe or The Swiss Family Robinson, or Hatchet, for a more modern take, where protagonists are thrust into situations where they need to fend for themselves, using only what is to hand to build shelter and tools for survival. But the castaway protagonist story could be a huge component of setting and circumstance to be incorporated into a story with a large permacultural theme.

For my own part, I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, and in my permacultural designs are what many would term permacultural futurism. I have been playing with the idea of futuristic travelogues to destinations transformed by an imagined hundred years of elapsed time, during which climate change is mitigated, adapted and responded to using permacultural design and methodology. I might just use the vignettes as settings for a larger story, but one thing at a time.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Dickens, as an example of a prolific writer that children are still tortured with, was prolific in part because of the episodic or serial nature of his writing. This might be the wrong format for some writing, but for something like a graphic novel or webcomic or something, it might have greater reach and effect.

-CK
 
Carol Denton
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You have some fantastic ideas, Chris. So write! Fantasy is huge right now and one of the few genres that kids will actually read. Graphics too. I'm happy to say that the seventh graders in my district read Hatchet a part of their curriculum and most seem to like it. Even if they've never had the types of experiences expressed in books at least they are being mentally exposed to some things outside of their realms. I would love for every school to be an outdoor experienced-based, skills-based, fun, loud, practical experience because I believe that's how decision making skills are developed. But hey. I guess that's what parents are for.
 
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Fantastic ideas. The middle schoolers I know of continue to read anything that is funny or mysterious , so ensure something of that nature exists. Unfortunately I doubt you will get a lot of attention with value based themes
 
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