It Was A Dark and Stormy...Plot. by Darlene Beck Jacobson

I've never been one to seek out conflict.  I'm the ostrich who buries her head in the sand when unpleasantness rears it's emotional head.  Of course, it's impossible to hide from conflict; it finds us, no matter where we are.  It's always been a challenge for me to write dark, disturbing, or sad passages that I know are important to a story.

It helps to read stories that explore these dark and sad themes.  Maybe that's why many of the books that are required reading for middle grade contain themes that deal with the sad and scary events of life. A story I read as a girl that is still read by young people today is DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank. Anne's descriptions of everyday preteen life, while hiding with her family from the horrors of Nazi Germany, show us that even under the most horrific circumstances, life goes on and we must find a way to get through each day with hope. 

The Diary of a Young Girl    Another more recent title that deals with war and its aftermath is THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw.  This story is based on the childhood of the author's grandmother who survived the bombing of Hiroshima.  Out of the death and destruction comes a message of peace and hope for the future.    The Last Cherry Blossom

Reading books with difficult themes gives children a chance to learn empathy.  It gives them language to properly express emotions.  It provides a safe place to explore and discuss ALL aspects of the human condition and to prepare young people for the world they are part of and will one day rule.

Like all difficult things in life, having a chance to talk about it and share it with someone who has "been there" makes the experience more bearable and helps us understand.  

For a good explanation of why books with "difficult" themes are important visit:


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