chapter  3
6 Pages

Bridging the gap between child reader and adult author

The child is not. Any more than the adult. It is an incomplete phrase (certainly not two sentences) made to make us think by supporting its own hypothesis in the silences that exist in the meaning, hitherto unsaid, unwritten and inarticulate because it is aimed at us imagining its articulation. Although and once again (see above) our thoughts on the issue are inaccessible to us except in textual form. And so a textual intervention on this begins with a child ‘is’ and an adult ‘is’ called into existence through its relation to the ‘other’ – if there was no child there would be no need for the term adult and vice versa, we would just be. But crucial to this co-existence is surely an attempt at understanding the other. Otherwise the child ‘is not’ remains, just as the adult ‘is not’ for while they are both designated ‘other’1 to each this needs to be recognised mutually, not with the adult as a dominant force, and for me this is something all writers need to be aware of. But what does it all mean? Returning to Rose’s central idea that

Children’s fiction is clearly about the relation [between adult and child], but it has remarkable characteristics of being about something which it hardly ever talks of. Children’s fiction sets up a world in which the adult comes first (author, maker, giver) and the child comes after (reader, product, receiver), but where neither of them enter the space in between [my italic].