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Can you swear in children's books?

(37 Posts)
Wavyheaded Mon 14-Oct-19 19:31:25

I'm writing a fantasy story but from the perspective of animals and they swear in their heads.. I know it sounds weird, but I want to keep the swear words - should I aim it for adults? I doubt most adults will take it seriously! But I'm loathe to take out the swearing as some of my characters WILL swear, as it's in their personality.. am I overthinking everything? I want it to be a children's story, not adults..

RolytheRhino Mon 14-Oct-19 20:08:12

Nope. No swearing in children's books. Had one kid come up to me the other day scandalised by a bad word in a school library book. It was 'idiot'.

IndefatigableMouse Mon 14-Oct-19 20:08:35

There have been animal books for adults. I loved the Duncton Wood books when I was... well actually I was in my teens but they are for adults!

IndefatigableMouse Mon 14-Oct-19 20:09:29

But certainly I’d be very surprised to have swear words in books like Redwall (fantasy animals, mostly mice, for kids), they probably have toned down frustration words though.

Cuddling57 Mon 14-Oct-19 20:11:11


Witchend Mon 14-Oct-19 22:31:14

I would suggest it depends on the book and the age range.

If you look at Alex Rider, for example, it would normally say "Alex swore."
Cherub would use the actual words, which is one of several reasons why I would advise parents look at it before giving them to their dc, and I would not recommend it for under 11yo, whereas Alex Rider I'd say from about age 9yo.

Personally I think most of the reasons why I would recommend a parent looks at the Cherub books including the swearing, are to the detriment of the book. It comes across to me as the author trying a bit to hard to sound "cool and down wiv the youf"

I think the "Bloody Hell" in Harry Potter weren't in the books, but in the movies. And actually I read somewhere that they weren't scripted, but they asked the children to improvise at points and that was the actor who played Ron's standard way of expressing surprise/shock/horror.

EmperorBallpitine Mon 14-Oct-19 22:36:38

@witchend I remember my friend being annoyed her 12yo dd had read about a sex act in Cherub.
Absolutely no swearing in middle grade fiction. YA fiction can contain swearing but only if it suits the themes and setting, so, a griity rough urban drama for teens might be OK.
In the context of your book, I'd say find a voice for the ruder animals that doesn't include the actual swearing but conveys their character.

dangerrabbit Mon 14-Oct-19 22:39:01

Go the Fuck to Sleep Read by Samuel L Jackson

Witchend Mon 14-Oct-19 23:22:12

@EmperorBallpitine I agree. James is 12yo at the beginning and is very much a womaniser (although the various women usually get their revenge) already. That's one of the weak points. It's very much about the boobs and sex with him, rather than making it a romance that builds up. (even though he ends up with the girl he is after in the first book, he's gone through several girls in the process)
Then they drink and smoke a lot. To me that was totally unrealistic. They're a training site. They're mad keen on fitness. They would not want them smoking, and definitely not want them drunk in case they gave things away. But the instructors are described as turning a blind eye to it.
Far better for them to have lessons to appear as though they're drinking/smoking but not actually, as they do have to be in situations where it would be odd if they don't.

To me they are the weak points of an excellent set of books that 2 of my dc loved.
Interestingly the author wrote some prequels (Henderson boys) and in those the above (plus swearing) feel much more natural and less trying to appear cool. I think it's partially that it isn't an organised group most of the time, but also it's set during WWII, and things were different.

1066vegan Mon 14-Oct-19 23:37:33

Of course you shouldn't swear in a children's book. I can't believe that anyone would even have to ask this.

Zilla1 Wed 20-Nov-19 13:34:46

"Oh carrots!" said Bunny.
"Cabbages!" replied Guineapig, also angry with Mouse.
"Squeak!" Mouse shouted, well as loud as a mouse could and she ran off.

Gallivespian Wed 20-Nov-19 19:31:25

Enid Blyton characters say ‘Oh, blow!’ quite a lot.

GeorgeTheFirst Wed 20-Nov-19 19:36:39

Of course not

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