Why are we all chasing excitement? It is so temporary. And yet we want our children to get excited about anything. So they are exposed to inner-earth people flying on giant birds, battling monsters… at least that’s what the ad promotes. Or young people taking to the woods to murder each other. I’m told Grade 3 children are reading Hunger Games. That’s not excitement, that’s horror!
So it has become the trend to promote fantasy and violence. In real life, fantasy is in the mind and violence is abhorred. At least people still react with horror to it.
Children of today begin life innocently. They are not looking for monsters. They’re not inviting violence. Why do authors think those ingredients are required in order to sell books?
All I see are anti-heroes. Where are stories about real heroes? Where are there plots about people who strive to accomplish something to benefit humanity? Where are there stories about love for family and kindness and understanding for those in need? Where is humour?
Stories about real heroes like Marie Curie, who put her research to cure cancer on hold in order to save lives in World War I; or Hippocrates, who taught the ethics of medical practice and became known as the “Father of Medicine”; or Joseph Lister, who taught the medical community about the concept of antiseptic surgery; these are real heroes, and children love to hear about them and are inspired by their work.
I know, because I’ve been reading stories about these real heroes to children in their classrooms and they love them!
Let me tell you a little history. I hated studying history in school. I couldn’t remember all those dates and wars were exasperatingly stupid to me. Now I write about history for children and I love doing it. How did that happen?
It started when I took a brief intro course on the use of a computer. Overnight I started writing a series of stories that covered history from ancient times to the mid twentieth century through the eyes of my character Alexander Catt. What fun!
Do you believe in serendipity? My good friend and son-in-law suggested a new series on the history of medicine. From the previous research I knew it would have to begin with ancient Egypt. SHAZAM! I was invited to a museum exhibit on ancient Egypt and there in the gift shop was a book on Medicine in Ancient Egypt! The story wrote itself.
Did you know that the symbol for drugstores came from ancient Egypt?
I was reading a biography of Hippocrates when (SHAZAM!) my daughter gave me a worn ragged old book on the ancient Olympics and the story “Lexi and Hippocrates Find Trouble at the Olympics” wrote itself.
Did you know that Niki was the goddess of victory?
Did you know that those ancient runners ran naked? Now that’s racy!
Did you know that Hippocrates taught medicine under a tree?
So, what’s next in my little history? I let serendipity guide me. Doctors are now required to view a program on washing hands before they renew their licenses to practice medicine. Incredible! Why? The answer begins with Lister. I can’t wait to write this one! Do you know if there is a book about the man?
So far all I know is that he took his new bride on a honeymoon to Europe to visit all the hospitals. Now there’s a story!