Kids Read Characters

by K.C. Maguire

Today I picked up a writing craft book in the local library, Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin. She starts with the premise that today’s kids are more difficult to hook with a book than younger readers of the past and that the trick to get a reader to “slow down and curl up with a book” is in the characters.

In her introduction, she writes: “Kids read because a magical closeness springs up between them and the characters in books and stories …. They read because a writer has brought a character to life on the page for them. This writer has created a person readers want to know better – someone they identify with, or someone they would like to have for a friend perhaps, someone who’s like the kids they know in school, maybe even someone they know and hate.” (p 2)

She also acknowledges the importance of a good story, even though her book focuses on characters.

And this got me to thinking that I wonder if there are any contemporary books for young people that succeed because of aspects other than character: for example, books with two-dimensional or stereotypical characters but with amazing plots, world-building or something else that holds the reader’s attention?

Now, I’m NOT advocating that we shouldn’t all write amazing characters for kids and adult readers alike. We should. And creating memorable and relatable characters is something I (and all other writers I know) continually work to improve. But I was interested in whether anyone can think of recent books where the characters leave something to be desired but the book works because of plot, pacing, world-building or something else?

Just curious on this breezy Monday ….

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