Why we need to be more open-minded about science fiction.

With the best of intentions adults have a tendency to select books and other reading materials for children based on their own preferences.  And science fiction is a bit like marmite – you either love it or you hate it and if you are a hater you probably aren’t inclined to readily share a sci-fi book with a child.

Children often seek approval from their trusted adults and if you have made your dislike for science fiction (or any other genre) abundantly clear, you are perhaps unwittingly denying a child permission to enjoy it.


Just what is it about science fiction that people don’t like? 

Perhaps it’s because they don’t see it as the real world…yet escapism is a powerful reason to read.

Perhaps they think the content will be too challenging…yet learning new information is a powerful reason to read.

Perhaps they think that science fiction is for a particular audience; people who read sci-fi and nothing else…yet broadening our thinking is a powerful reason to read.

Perhaps they don’t understand what it’s all about…yet exploring new concepts is a powerful reason to read.

The science fiction genre has changed significantly over the past decade or so and it is now much more diverse and relatable for a broader range of people.  There is now more chance for individuals to see themselves in sci-fi books whatever their background.

Because of the massive advances in science and technology we have seen in our lifetimes, the plot in lots of sci-fi books isn’t as far-fetched as it might have been some years ago – it’s reasonable to believe it actually might happen.  Who would have imagined that a deadly virus could rapidly spread around the world needing swift scientific intervention to bring it under control, hey?

When sharing reading with a child it’s unhelpful to categorise books as adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, horror etc. and then pigeon-hole that child as liking one particular genre.  It's more helpful to take the time to find out what specifically a child enjoyed about a book and then offer others with similar characteristics.  When reading a science fiction book, it might be the actual science they are fascinated by or it could be the fast-paced action or the layout of the book itself. 

We need to remember to keep offering a broad range of reading materials until a child is confident enough in their reader identity to seek out books for themselves - whether they're our own personal choice of book or not!