-Ivan Southall, “Sources and Responses”, The Openhearted Audience: Ten Authors Talk about Writing for Children, ed. by Virginia Haviland, Fredonia Books, ©1980, 2000
We had our first "real" family portrait taken when Oldest was two years old and Middle was an infant. We got all bundled up and went to church to have our pictures taken for the directory, and I was very excited because we would get to keep a copy for ourselves. The photographer got us all set up, went back to his camera, and proceeded to pull out a squeaky toy which he held over the camera and squeezed like a madman. I tried to tell him that our child responded very well to things like, “Hey, look over here!” but he refused to try it. Apparently he thought it would work better to treat our toddler like a dog. And you know what? The man got the look he deserved (“What’s wrong with that guy?”) and we got a family portrait that never made it onto the wall.
I think sometimes we get wrapped up in our important adult world and fool ourselves into thinking that because kids are less mature, less experienced and take up less space that they are somehow less, period. Less human, less interesting, less interested. And if we get fooled into thinking that, won’t that affect what we offer them in terms of books, education, and art?
More from Ivan Southall:
What I wish for the writer for children, what I wish for myself, is the ultimate compliment—the return of the child in maturity to read the same book with new insight, new discovery, new joy. I would not wish for the writer for children, or for me, that the child in maturity should come back with the accusation: “You deceived me. You sold me short. You did not write from your heart. You wrote in a hurry off the top of your head.”