Writing OUT Stereotypes
One message that appears way too often is the portrayal of Richie Rich, the wealthy spoiled brat. In children’s literature the rich kid is usually a snotty, rude, duplicitous, entitled bully. The hero or heroine will be the underdog, the poor child in rags who has to overcome so much to succeed.
Walker Hound of Park Avenue will soon be released as a chapter book. This is a true story, I’m delighted to say, that portrays a little boy and girl, twins, in a different light. True, they have a nanny, a doorman, a personal chauffeur, and live in a Park Avenue apartment. Yes, I met them. And they are every family’s dream of kind, compassionate, generous children, expecting no entitlement, polite and pleasant. In most children’s books they would be the villainous kids who must learn a lesson by the story’s end. But, in this true story their behavior is the ideal readers can emulate. It isn’t the usual story arc.
The first rejection of this manuscript was for that reason. The acquisition editor found their charity and cheery disposition to be artificial. That’s what she said. The second rejection came with the suggestion that I write the children poor, and in need of a dog. It would make a better story, they said. Thankfully, Progressive Rising Phoenix Press believes there are some pleasant rich kids who should be portrayed realistically.
Destroying a stereotype isn’t the reason I wrote the story, but it’s a good reason to read it. Being economically comfortable, or wealthy, isn’t necessarily a bad trait, but is often written that way. I take every opportunity to correct stereotyping in my writing. Anytime we can write OUT a stereotype in a story, we should do so. And if it’s part of a true story, all the better.