Choose your own adventure stories are excellent ways of allowing children free choice and free reign over their actions and there is a new book offering plenty of choice for readers. Author Sarah Coyle explains more about her book and choices for children.
By Sarah Coyle, author of Pick a Story A Pirate + Alien + Jungle Adventure
We all know kids love having a choice. Not a rubbish, ‘make the right choice here, kid,’ choice, which is really just another way for bigger people to remind smaller people who’s the boss. A real, proper choice. A choice with SIGNIFICANCE and CONSEQUENCES. A which T-Shirt, what game, who’s coming and most hugely important WHAT FLAVOUR, choice.
I’m a child of the 80s. As far as I can remember, we weren’t presented with a huge amount of choice, but it felt like we had more freedom. Aside from swimming, (which granted, did have some kicker VENDING MACHINE choosing action), there was little in the way of scheduled activity in my life. We got home from school, watched a little telly and then we played. Sometimes even out in front of the house. My parents didn’t give much/any thought to the minutiae of how good/bad stuff affected our malleable junior brains, (they’ve admitted as much, I basically have it in writing). Overall, there wasn’t a lot of pressure and the choices I remember, I remember making casually.
Today we are in A DIFFERENT WORLD, (cue ominous rattle with tin foil sheet). Things are bigger. They last longer. We know all about the importance of choice and the terror mistakes can hold. So it’s understandable that we want to keep our children safe. Perhaps, as a result of all these pressures, all this fear, we’re less willing to hand over that self–agency to the inexperienced. I hold my hands up. I’m guilty. I’d rather vet all my kids’ choices, preferably until they’re well over twenty five, than have the rough edges of this world graze their tiny, beautiful minds. And yet, the choices the generations to come will have to make may be the most difficult yet.
I wanted every choice in Pick a Story to be fun, to be a great choice, but I didn’t want it to be too easy. I wanted the book to be packed. I wanted consequences, re-discovery, hard to reach pages, variety, value and enough regret for the reader to want to read the book again. And then again. And then again and so on and so forth.
Pick a Story was written to give as much control to the younger audience as possibly possible. They select the story paths and character journeys. They can stay on mission or get distracted, make moral judgements or shop for something terribly fancy. They can also shout at giant squid. Crucially, they can fail. And after they fail, they can try again.
The choices we make shape who we become. Let us nod to them. Scientists may claim that no true free will exists, but Pick a Story provides an approximate simulation. Now, isn’t that something we all deserve?
Pick a Story by Sarah Coyle is published by FarShore and is available now.
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation.