You know, I feel like A:tLA really found a way to resonate with the struggles that a lot of kids face.
Aang is the struggle of the “gifted child”. He’s told from a young age that he’s going to do incredible things that puts him under a lot of pressure until he finally pulls off the ultimate procrastination trying to avoid the stress. He shows a lot of talent in what he’s good at, but when he tries learning something he’s not immediately good at he is easily discouraged. He’s also almost paralyzed by the fear of failing. (To be fair, the stakes are very high in his case).
Katara is the child with all of the talent she could ever need, but none of the opportunity. She has a real natural talent for waterbending, but no place at home where she can get training to develop the talent. It reminds me of kids from my school who were extremely talented in theatre, but couldn’t afford to participate after they instated the $200 “pay to participate” rules on extracurriculars.
Toph is the child with plenty of talent, but physical limitations that she has to go beyond. She has to prove that she is twice as good to get the same respect (and boy does she ever)! And she has to balance making sure that no one treats her disability as her defining characteristic, while still making sure it’s accounted for. Her parents would have let her blindness rule her life and she had to fight just to get the chance to show her talents.
Sokka is like the kid with lots of talent, but in an area that’s not very valued. At least not when compared to the benders. Like the kid who draws incredible comics in their notebooks, but is looked down on because they just can’t get an A on their report cards. Or the kid who is a talented pianist that everyone asks about getting prepared for a “real career” while the kids on the football team are being told to watch for recruiters.
That’s just the Gaang, but you could keep doing this with so many characters (I mean, everything about Zuko!), but I’m just really grateful that even in this fantastic setting there were a lot of things people could identify with.