The Benefits for Kids in Reading Fantasy, a guest post by Erika Lewis
When I was in elementary and middle school, there was no line on the playground that delineated readers of fiction and readers of fantasy fiction. That was for the adults to argue about. We only wanted to read and escape to new and exciting, sometimes terrifying, places where kids were flying high and shooting webs to rid the world of great evil or wielding wands to keep a bully at bay. It was wish fulfillment at its best.
The world felt like it moved at a snail’s pace when I was young, changes happening when things touched our lives personally, like divorces and deaths. Our family went through a divorce, and I lost grandparents, pets and ultimately, my stepfather, all before I was eighteen. When I felt like I needed to get away from all the feelings that came with that, I could soar through the skies hanging on to Spider-Man, go through the wardrobe to Narnia with Lucy Pevensie, or visit Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory. Candy always did make everything better. I never cared if someone made fun of me for seeing Star Wars eight times in the movie theater (although my parents did get tired of waiting in lines that stretched around the building). If someone made fun of me, I had my lightsaber—the one I made out of glued paper towel tubes and painted blue because I was going to be Luke’s sister…yeah, that was before the reveal, but I digress.
While there have been many arguments by much more scholarly people than me on the merits of fantasy versus realism in books, discussions that did their best to prove fantasy was not of a lesser value. Going into detail about how fantasy fiction can be used as a metaphor for real life situations, and explore deeply felt issues in a fictionalized universe, like Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, tackling book burning. This is all true and continues to be a part of why I write fantasy, but I feel there’s another reason we should add to the conversation.
Being an adult now, I can’t imagine how hard life is for our children. They’re grappling with pandemics and politics. Conversations swirl with us parents—will they ever get over this? With elementary and middle school ages, will emotional growth be stunted from not seeing their teacher’s smile? To high school age, where many missed out on all that comes with the last year of high school? Will they be irreparably changed? I know I have. But honestly, I have no answers. I’m not an expert. And I don’t suppose too many experts have been through this either. BUT what I do know, is that the escape into fantasy world might be just what they need. I don’t think my daughter would’ve made it through so much isolation without reading every Young Adult fantasy book that came out in 2020 and 2021.
What they need, and we all need is that break from it all. For young and old, fantasy worlds inspire imaginations, and imaginary play. Places to take refuge whenever the world gets too much.
Children especially gravitate toward fantasy, loving it for all the same reasons I did as a kid (and still do). I want to be able to change the world around me with a spell, to make it a better place. To keep evil at bay or better yet, eradicate it for good.
I have been fortunate to have met and worked with some of those who made life bearable for me when I was young.
And have gotten to work with genius collaborators and visionary studios.
Through their work, Stan Lee and George Lucas inspired many. What did I get from them? Confidence that in all of us exists the power to help make the world a better place. KELCIE MURPHY AND THE ACADEMY FOR THE UNBREAKABLE ARTS is at its core a story about a team of kids, each with their own problems and flaw, coming together to defeat great evil, to make their world a better place. My hope is that it gives readers confidence and courage to believe they too can make a difference in the world, to make real change happen. To plant seeds of hope, especially now, at a time when we really need it.
Meet the author
Erika Lewis grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, spent summers with her grandparents in Worcester, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Los Angeles, California. With a passion for storytelling set in magical places, she spends as much time as she can traveling. When she’s not writing, she can generally be found scribbling notes in a blank book while wondering through abandoned buildings, all kinds of museums, and graveyards.
A graduate of Vanderbilt University, her list of credits straddles the comics and novel space, including Game of Shadows from Macmillan’s Tor Books, Firebrand and Acursian from Legendary Comics, #Guardian from Awesome Media & Entertainment, and The 49th Key from Heavy Metal Publishing. The Color of Dragons (HarperCollins) is her debut novel for young adults, publishing Fall 2021.
Erika makes her middle grade fiction debut with Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts, which Starscape Macmillan will publish in March 2022.
Visit her website at https://erikalewis.com/
Goodreads: Erika Lewis | Goodreads
About Kelcie Murphy and the Academy for the Unbreakable Arts
Brimming with Celtic mythology, action, and danger, Erika Lewis’s Kelcie Murphy and The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts introduces readers to a new kind of magical school and a warrior who must choose with which side of an epic battle her destiny will lie.
The Otherworld is at war. The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts trains warriors. And Kelcie Murphy—a foster child raised in the human world—is dying to attend.
A place at AUA means meeting Scáthach, the legendary trainer of Celtic heroes. It means learning to fight with a sword. It means harnessing her hidden powers and—most importantly—finding out who her parents are, and why they abandoned her in Boston Harbor eight years ago.
When Kelcie tests into the school, she learns that she’s a Saiga, one of the most ancient beings in the Otherworld. Secretive, shunned, and possessed of imposing elemental powers, the Saiga are also kin to the Otherworld’s most infamous traitor.
But Kelcie is a survivor, and she’ll do whatever it takes to find her parents and her place in their world. Even if that means making a few enemies.
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 03/01/2022
Series: The Academy for the Unbreakable Arts #1
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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