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Epic literary violence 'not bad for kids'

23rd February 2010

A commentator has reluctantly agreed that violence in books is acceptable for children in an epic or mythological context.

Writing in the Guardian, journalist Imogen Russell Williams explained that she recently re-read Melvin Burgess' Bloodtide and realised the graphic violence it contains is enjoyable because it is based on Norse epic The Saga of the Volsungs.

'Realising that grim, wrist-deep violence in books for children and teenagers seems OK to me if it comes with an epic or mythological pedigree doesn't make me proud of myself,' she conceded.

However, Williams added it is important for children to learn about the full scope of human existence and the great epics are a good way for them to look at classic themes such as destiny and love alongside grisly events like betrayal and death.

She also wrote that if authors were to reduce the amount of gore and violence in works which cover other themes realistically, it would have the unfortunate effect of making literature seem like a cartoon.

Recent research from Iowa State University, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, brought the effect of violent scenes on children to the fore, after it claimed animated shows can make kids more aggressive.

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