*No, this doesn’t refer to race, but to “all or nothing”
Children, some say, are basically black & white thinkers. A character or an action is either all good or all bad. This perception remains with some their whole lives, but most grow out of it to see others in shades of gray.
Developmental psychologists have written that the subtle and more nuanced understanding of history, story, and of other people— beings somewhere between the ages of ten and sixteen. Family guidance and environment, as well as individual temperament, make a difference as to whether this happens sooner or trickles in later.
Many storytellers do not realize the immense power they have to help this process along. The fairytales of yore have done nothing to help subtle understanding. But modern writing can.
As a decidedly gray thinker who sees humanity’s failures and triumphs as mixed bags, I am committed to showing this complexity even in the shortest of picture book texts. I don’t go so far as to assign no value to anything, but I will show that wicked is often closer to weak, and good is not to be confused with godly.
How do you like your characters? I love mine enough to let them be gray-ish.