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Last Updated: Saturday August 29 2009 11:47 GMT

Do children's books need happy endings?

Adam reading an Anne Fine book

Watch Adam's report

Children's author Anne Fine has said she reckons kids' books are getting too depressing.

She says that although lots of books for children are more realistic than before, not enough of them offer you any hope.

So what do you think? Are realistic books like those by Jacqueline Wilson too depressing?

Or maybe you think darker books help kids deal with real-life problems?

This topic is closed now

Your comments

"I love to read, and over the years I've noticed that happy ending stories are extremely boring and predictable. I believe that the best ending is a bit of happiness, drama for a few characters and mystery to get your mind going!"

Amira, 13, London, England

"If every single book that has ever been written had a happy ending then what would the point be in reading them, as you read them to find out the ending. So if you knew it would always be happy then it would ruin it. Also, many books try to reflect on reality, which isn't at all whoop-de-do!!"

Aoife, 13, Dublin, Ireland

"Children's books should not always have a happy ending. I mean, yeah for two to six year olds but not always for six and older. I mean. My Sister Jodie by Jacqueline Wilson is still a fab book and that has a sad ending."

Megan, 10, Penrith, England

"I don't really mind because young people need to learn there aren't always happy endings in life!!"

Jock, 9, Edinburgh, Scotland

"No, they don't! I mean little children's books [five and under] need to have happy endings, obviously. But books for 10-13 year olds don't! Reality doesn't always have a happy ending and if you're writing about real-life, you're supposed to make your books as real as possible. Making them real means including the harsh reality of not having your dream happy ending."

Dolphin, 11, Ipswich, England

"If all books had happy endings then all books would be the same, and they'd be boring. The ending is the most important bit."

Ellie, 10, The Netherlands

"I think that books for children can have unhappy endings, depending on the age group. Jacqueline Wilson's book tend to end happily, however, they are about children in depressing situations. Her book do show that not all children are in happy family situations but things can turn out OK in the end."

Mollie, 11, London, England

"I think some children's books should have a sad ending and others should have a happy ending depending on the book. Books I think can be important if they have happy endings because I think they can teach kids to dream."

Melissa, 9, USA

"I think books that are for kids aged 3-6 should have happy endings as they are only small and don't want to be upset, and books for children 6+ can have either happy or sad or even a hook!"

Rukayya, 11, Preston, England

"Nope, they don't. A little drama and a bit bit of angst is better than a happily ever after."

Genina, 12, Oxfordshire, England

"I'm a book worm and I would read a book no matter how depressing they are because books are what I love and I always will!"

Shannon, 9, Edinburgh, Scotland

"I think if books always had happy endings we would know what was coming. But sad books are less unexpected."

Angus, 10, Scotland

"NO! Look at Lemony Snicket's books. Do they have a happy ending? No!"

Hannah, 13, Scotland

"No because that will be boring. Children need to know that life doesn't always have happy endings."

Bethany, 13, England

"Yes, they should so they don't have nightmares."

Ayesha, 14, Lancashire, England

"I think that children's books should not be so depressing, especially Jacqueline Wilson books. They all seem to have similar plots and are uniformly depressing."

Ruth, 12, Derby, England

"A child knows what book they like to read. I don't like majorly happy books where everything goes right. It's plain boring if there's no sadness. "

Samantha, 12, Motherwell, Scotland

"No! Then it wouldn't be like the real world!"

Fiona, 9, Massachussetts, USA

"I think children's books need happy endings, unlike Jacqueline Wilson's books which tackle real-life problems that make the books too depressing for kids. Once I read a book which had a nice cover so I thought it would be suitable. However, when I read it I found that it was very disturbing for children my age."

Mariam, 11, UK

"Of course not! If books were all happy then kids would never know the real world, and get a big shock. Anyway the sadder books are always the best books."

Elise, 11, Hertfordshire, England

"There is a fine line between a good, bad or sad story. But I think books are great as they are, anyway if they take away unhappy endings I'll just read books out of the adult section."

Louise, 13, Surrey, England

"Well, if the books are for young children then they need to have a happy ending but it really depends on what age the book is for."

Kate, 10, East Sussex, England

"It isn't really relevant because it's whether it's a good book that matters."

Rebecca, 12, Manchester, England

"I think if the book is scary, it should have a happy ending, but sometimes life is sad so it is okay to put that into books."

Grace, 9, Buckinghamshire, England

"I think that not all books should have happy endings because it is nothing like life. Sometimes it's good for it to be nothing like life but you have to have some books with a bad ending."

Emily, 12, Bournemouth, England

"It depends how old you are. Some stories that don't have happy endings are read by very young children and can be distressing."

Katie, 14, Birmingham, England

"Totally - reading rocks!!!"

Bobby, 12, Swindon, England

"Well I think it doesn't matter if it's good or bad as long as you get a good old read."

Lauren, 10, Sheffield, England

"NO. A simple no because children must learn that things happen in life and not everything is happy. But it's all right if it's a happy book."

Rubie, 11, Surrey, England

"I don't think it really matters as it's good to see that stuff in Anthony Horowitz could be happening in your town. It also helps to understand stuff."

Rosanna, 11, Surrey, England

"Usually most books do and it is very rarely that I have read one that has made me upset. Although one of JK Rowling's books (The Half-Blood Prince) had a sad ending that wasn't essential which made me feel upset. All her other books had a nearly happy ending and her books are a collection which is why she had to round one off like that. If it is a series of books the author will need to round them off with the main character dying or one the nearly main characters dying."

Kathryn, 12, Hull, England

"I do think some can be a bit harsh but most of the time they are okay with me."

Maddy, 10, Kent, England

"I don't mind unhappy endings - if they bother you, just don't read the book!"

Alain, 10, Derbyshire, England

"Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful is dark yet helps us come to term with issues that our elder relatives had to deal with. We can't kid ourselves with unrealistic endings. We can judge for ourselves whether we want to read something or not!"

Finley, 13, Buckinghamshire, England

"I think children's books are fine but some of them are totally depressing. Some of the teenage books I read now sometimes have happier endings than children's books."

Jessie, 12, Northern Ireland

"Life doesn't have a happy ending, why should books?"

Emily, 14, Liverpool, England

"I love books with happy endings and I think you should too. My fave book is The Snotty Ogre which is real funny and made by Jacqueline Wilson."

Hennah, 9, Essex, England

"I think happy endings can cheer you up sometimes, but when I read sad books I feel emotional. I don't mind if it's happy or sad as long as it's an okay book to read."

Sophie, 14, Cornwall, England

"I love Jacqueline Wilson books, she is my favourite author! I love her so much because her books are realistic, that's what makes them so good!"

Heather, 11, Cumbria, England

"I like stories that have bad endings because it makes the book more exciting."

Prentice, 10, Bristol, England

"I have been writing my own book and it is very dark. I have written it like this because I believe that children need a bit of darkness in their lives otherwise they will not be able to cope with situations such as death in later life."

Chris, 12, Surrey, England

"I believe the writer should put what is best for the book's ending. Most books have a meaning or moral, so to put forward this meaning the ending must match the moral of the story. Also it gives a bit of excitement to the story!!"

Poppy, 14, Kent, England

"I like sad books. I think they show kids that life isn't all happy."

Connor, 11, Scotland

"I think it should be a mix. I like cliff hanging endings."

Abbie, 11, Essex, England

"Some children prefer dark endings than happy ones, so there should be an equal choice."

Felix, 14, Wales

"I don't think books are too depressing. They deal with real life issues which you can't just try to avoid for the rest of your life. It is good to know about the problems faced in life from an early age and they also help you deal with them. I think Jacqueline Wilson writes her books really well, laying out the problem well to help you learn about the different issues."

Jasmine, 13, UK

"Well everyone likes happy endings even if they don't admit it."

Tom, 13, Surrey, England

"Yes some books need happy endings but some could also be sad."

Amberlei, 9, Bedfordshire, England

"I think some books about real life problems are good, because it is comforting to read about people going through the same problems you are, but books about fantasy worlds, like Harry Potter, are wonderful, because they let you escape from the real world and all its problems."

Alice, 14, Worcestershire, England

"I don't care really as long as the book is interesting. I've just read a book called Breaking Dawn and it had a really happy ending despite the fact that there was a lot of really depressing stuff involved in the book. However books need to be balanced out, like some happy endings and some sad endings because sometimes life doesn't end happily."

Rebecca, 12, Manchester, England

"I LOVE books with sad endings. I write fan fictions and they nearly all have something depressing in them. I think it helps you realise that life's not all fun and smiles."

Avril, 13, Essex, England

"I agree because Jacqueline Wilson's books are so depressing they're not enjoyable to read."

Natalie, 13, London, England

"I really do not like Jacqueline Wilson, as they are far too boring and samey and have too much believable lines in them. I like books with cliff-hangers like Necropolis by Anthony Horowitz, which is a brilliant book. Darker stories are not always set in the real world, but they are exciting and quite a change from a happier mood book."

George, 13, Peterborough, England

"I think all books should have happy endings."

Erin, 10, Scotland

"No I love books that have weird endings."

Melissa, 12, Scotland

"No! I like different endings to stories; it expands my mind!"

Julia, 10, London, England

"I think kids' books should be realistic, so kids don't think everything has a happy ending in life. Some books give kids the wrong idea of reality."

Kiran, 14, Bradford, England

"Books that tackle real life issues are better than fairy tales because it makes more kids read them."

Aamina, 13, Yorkshire, England

"Darker books sometimes scare children, although lots of people don't admit it. I prefer happy endings but that's just me I guess!"

Asha, 11, Lincoln, England

"I don't mind about how the book ends, as long as it's a good read."

Kaleem, 11, Worcester, England

"Kids' books ALWAYS have happy endings, so you nearly always know what's going to happen."

Mia, 9, Halifax, England

"I don't think all children's books need happy endings. I find that books with unhappy endings are much more interesting. Look at J.K. Rowling- her books have got a lot of deaths and her series of Harry Potter is known all over the world and has made millions! Children need to learn that not every story has a happy ending."

Alice, 11, Northampton, England

"I don't think kids' books are too depressing. I want a realistic view to life in my books and when they end 'all la de da' and happy I just think we that wouldn't really happen. I think happiness is good in books but not all the time, and I think kids' books are fine."

Rebekah, 13, Isle of Wight, England

"Kids' books are nowhere near depressing! Children's books don't even need to have a happy ending - look at the Harry Potter books! They're famous and don't have many happy endings."

Shannon, 12, London, England

"I think that some books should be happy for younger kids but older children should have a mix of both."

Amy, 10, Stockport, England

"People have a lot to learn and happy endings don't always come up in life."

Sam, 12, Nottingham, England

"I don't like the Jacqueline Wilson books because I think the only thing she writes about is horrible things like divorce. But if books were always happy, then there would not be much point in reading them because they would just start to get boring."

Grace, 11, London, England

"Sometime a sad ending can do you good because people need to know about reality. But in younger kids' books, happy endings mean they can enjoy the first part of childhood."

Heather, 10, East Lothian, Scotland

"I think that as long as they're not "and they lived happily ever after", happy endings are fine but I don't mind said ones if the reason for them are good."

Philomena, 9, London, England

"I think some books are best with happy endings and some are better with sad ones. Like if it's been a bit depressing through the story it shouldn't have a sad ending too."

Nerida, 11, Edinburgh, Scotland

"Total rubbish!!! I don't think that children's books are too depressing and I LOVE Jacqueline Wilson's books."

Skye, 10, Milton Keynes, England

"Not always because they have to learn it's not always happy endings."

Georgia, 11, Cumbria, England

"I think that happy endings are important - you need some sad bits like in Harry Potter but the ending MUST be happy otherwise I won't read the book"

Hannah, 10, London, England

"There are so many different types of books to just be able to say they are all depressing. Most classics aren't very happy but they've been loved for generations. It really depends on the book and the reader as to if it's too depressing as every case is different!"

Clara, 12, Sussex, England

"For young people then yes there should be more happy endings but for older kids no way! I like sad endings because they show an interesting character that can relate to you. Happy endings don't always happen in real life, and not everyone should expect that."

Emmi, 12, Prague, Czech Republic

"No because that will just be stupid and boring if they are all happy endings zzzzzzzz!"

Chloe, 10, England

"YES! You do not want a depressed child sulking all the time. Children need tot be happy!"

Saamiya, 13, London, England

"I love to read books and I think that it's the happy endings that make a book so predictable and boring. It's nice once in a while to have a depressing book that leaves the reader stunned."

Kara, 12, Orkney, Scotland

"Yes, they should because otherwise children will think that life will be a dark nightmare."

Lauren, 9, Hampshire, England

"I think as long as there is some variety out there then you should let the child choose what they want!"

Jessica, 12, London, England

"Well I think that a sad ending is more realistic because in real life the girl doesn't always get the guy or 'live happily ever after' so if you want a happy ending read a fairy tale."

Maisie, 13, Lincoln, England

"The third Skulduggery Pleasant book has a slightly twisted ending, however it just makes you want to read the next one!"

Thomas, 10, Wales

"I think they should have depressing endings."

Dylan, 13. Leeds, England

"It depends on the writer and the genre of the book! Some kids like dark and scary and some like happy adventure ones!"

Laura, 12, Northern Ireland

"I think that as children grow up they should be allowed to choose the type of books they want to read rather than be restricted to just children's fiction and non-fiction."

Ruth, 9, Bristol, England

"Yes, I like stories with happy endings"

Jack, 10, Cambridge, England

"Books that tackle tough issues are often the most successful and the difficult issues that Jacqueline Wilson has dealt with has been recognised with her recent knighthood. Anne Fine's comments are hypocritical."

Finley, 13, England

"The darker books should have happy endings even if the plot is dark. At least some of them should."

Aliya, 9, London, England

"I think that you don't need all happy endings because some people might like happy endings while other people might like sad. Sometimes in life there are sad endings."

Amelia, 9, Birmingham, England

"No, not really. Well they shouldn't be too sad because that's just depressing."

Catherine, 12, Ireland

"I love the Sleepover Club books because they always have happy endings so I think they should have happy endings or it will be too sad for young children."

Isabel, 11, London, England

"I think some children's books need to be depressing to tell children about real life."

Jennie, 11, Bedfordshire, England

"I think they need to be darker."

Hannah, 12, Yorkshire, England

"If children's books don't have sad endings as well as happy ones, then kids won't read any sad endings when they grow up because they aren't used to it."

Ben, 14, Plymouth, England

"I don't think all books are depressing but I think there should be an age limit put on sad books by Jacqueline Wilson. Some books are amazing, and their sad endings are what make them great!"

Lucienne, 11, Oxford, England

"No way! I love unhappy endings they're more exciting."

Thomas, 11, Merseyside, England

"I think that books should have scary, happy or sad endings, take Harry Potter for example, it ends with Harry winning. Maybe there could have been a better ending."

Hinna, 12, Surrey, England

"No way! They help us understand that life isn't all fun and games!"

Holly, 12, Leeds, England

"I'm reading the Lemony Snicket books at the moment and they are sad but because they're so sad they're also funny."

Jessica, 12, Northamptonshire, England

"Children's books that have sad or unhappy endings are not pessimistic, they are realistic."

Elisia, 13, London, England

"I believe that really small children's books should have happy endings but after the age of 10 they should be more realistic. After all life itself isn't always a happy ending is it?"

Lucy, 12, West Sussex, England

"I don't like many Jacqueline Wilson books, and people who write like her. Stories are meant to be a world you can go to if you're having real-life problems, and her books and other realistic ones like hers just remind you of them. That's why I think the Harry Potter series are perfect for kids!"

Hannah, 13, Shropshire, England

"I prefer happy endings after a series of unfortunate or unhappy endings. This is why I prefer the Harry Potter series to the Series of Unfortunate Events series, as JK creates many vivid unfortunate events but gives us the ending which we all want with some twists along the way. However the series of unfortunate events and other series of books are simply to depressing for me to read."

Georgia, 14, Wales

"I don't think kids books are too depressing, you need sad books out there to help them face the facts that not everything is happy and about fairies."

Hannah, 12, Northamptonshire, England

"The darker books do help kids face real-life problems."

Declan, 10, Bolton, England

"I don't really think it matters what anyone says, it's not going to change the opinion of the author, so you are all just wasting your time."

Ben, 12, Kent, England

"I think younger children's books should have happy endings but have a few sad ones as well, just more happy endings."

Jessica, 12, Northamptonshire, England

"I like depressing. I think it's good and realistic endings help to prepare you for later in life when the same thing might happen to you."

Emily, 12, Lancashire, England

"No way! I don't like happy endings, you just get hurt when you don't get one."

Niamh, 13, Northern Ireland

"Yes! I like Jacqueline Wilson, but I read a book that was very disturbing and not suitable for under 13s. It didn't say so either, so I had no warning."

Sophie, 11, Hertfordshire, England

"Usually, I find happy endings boring and clichéd. Sometimes, though, it's nice to see a cheerful ending."

Alice, 12, Essex, England

"No, because there's no point reading a book if you know that the ending is going to be happy."

Jessica, 12, Northampton, England

"I love a good book, and I'll read any genre of book. I think some books should be realistic, and others complete fantasy. It gives the child the choice to choose what they read."

Georgia, 12, Sheffield, England

"Kids aged six and under should have happy endings then kids from the age of seven can have both if they want."

Elle, 8, Hampshire, England

"Well I do like happy endings but I don't really like sad endings because it makes me feel sad and I get tears in my eyes."

Bethany, 8, Kent, England

"Sometimes books do need a happy ending but if they all had a happy ending books would become very boring."

Maddie, 11, Northern Ireland

"Dark is okay as long as it ends happily - why would you want a book that ends sadly? There's enough sadness in the real world to deal with."

River, 12, Brighton, East Sussex

"A majority of children's books should have happy endings but I don't disagree with sad endings sometimes - we need to learn that in real life it is not always a happy ending!"

Aisling, 12, Galway, Ireland

"I think they aren't too depressing because who would want to read about happy elves and fairies and stuff like that."

KT, 13, Donegal, Ireland

"I think books need to be tied up with a happy ending, but it depends on the genre, not if it's horror like Frankenstein, or it's a sad ending like Romeo and Juliet. But Tracy Beaker and other books like that need happy endings."

Megan, 12, Bradford, England

"I think that darker books help children with real-life problems."

Charlotte, 14, Leicestershire, England