Writing for children is not as easy as it seems. Compared to adults, children are more difficult to please, and their literary taste are harder to satisfy. When writing for children, it is always necessary to strike a balance between being amusing but not bewildering; reflective but not condescending; and distinct but not complex. If you are not doing it right, then no child will most likely read through your books.
Janet Councilman, an author of children’s books from North Carolina, knows exactly how importance balance is when it comes to writing for children. Her books, Petie the Penguin and the Electric Igloo, Rocky Raccoon and His Caring Classmates, Rocky the Respectful Raccoon and His Red Sunglasses, and Sammie the Shark and the Return of the Lost Gift, are all carefully written and illustrated for the liking of children. They are all interesting, different, and full of learnings without being too much of something.
If you wish to write an awesome and well-balanced children’s book like Janet Councilman, but you do not know how to and where to begin – worry less! Here are five great tips on writing for children to help you start on your writing endeavor:
Choose a relatable theme
Relatability is important in writing any book. When you are writing for a specific audience, you need to make sure that your book will widely appeal to the taste of that certain audience. In this case, if you are writing for children, then you have to ensure that your book – its story and illustrations – is widely appealing and engaging to four- to twelve-year-old readers.
Write from a child’s point of view. Otherwise, at least write about a topic or an issue that is important to a child’s world. Do not write, for example, about an investor who is feeling frustrated because the stocks went down – children do not understand and care about stocks! Make sure your story is relatable to a child, but not childish. If a child can relate to your story, then they will most certainly read it over and over.
Create an out of the ordinary story
There are already hundreds and thousands of children’s books out there. With these numbers, it may be difficult to compete in the market and make your book seem worthwhile not just for the readers, but also for the publishers. For this reason, you need to write a children’s book that is original and unique.
Create a story that is out of the ordinary. Put some fresh elements and ideas in your book to ensure that it does not turn out to be just a copycat of an already written book. As much as possible, try not to emulate the works of others. Create your own creative world. Janet Councilman emphasized this when she said that being who you are in your writing and illustrations is important to make sure that your book stands out from the rest.
Invent lovable characters
Characters are important in children’s literature. Children love to read about characters whom they can relate to and care for. They often look at characters in books as either a friend or a reflection of themselves. With this, it is important that the main characters you invent in your books are charming and lovable. Do not make your story be about a grumpy, old lady who has no character development. Children do not want to read a story about someone who does not know how to smile. As much as possible, make your characters adorable and optimistic.
Write in an interesting but understandable manner
The manner of writing is also important in children’s books. The reading and comprehension levels of children are different to that of adults. For this reason, make sure that you writing is quite understandable to your young audience. Avoid using big words and complex sentences, as children will most certainly find it hard to understand them.
Writing in an understandable manner should not come at the expense of entertainment, however. You should also make sure that children will find interest in your writing. Do not be a boring author who uses a monotonous sentence structure – explore and have fun with words! To put it simply, write the way children like to read.
Do not instruct, teach
Children do not like condescension. More often than not, they do not like to be told what to do. Because of this, you should write your children’s book in a manner that teaches children, but do not instruct them on what to do exactly. Generally, children’s books contain moral lessons. Values and virtues are the essence of children’s literature. If you wish to convey a valuable message to your young readers, do so without being too preachy. Do not emphasize moral ascendancy. Remember, you are writing for children, and not for messed up adults.
Overall, writing for children involves a lot of considerations: consider what children like; what they would feel; how they would read your book; and more. If you want to write a well-balanced children’s book like Janet Councilman, be a considerate, empathetic, and authentic author. Find your core as an author for children. The tips on writing for children given in this article can help you start in such writing endeavor the right way.
FEATURED AUTHOR IN THIS POST
My name is Janet H. Councilman and I am from Burlington, N.C. I graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design. My love of art and the beach is why I wrote “Sammie the Shark and the Return of the Lost Gift”. I tic was influenced by the Guidance Counselor at the elementary school I worked. The autistic students love me reading to them when I mainstreamed them into the first grade. I have been drawing portraits of people, children and pets since 2000. I also design and make cards.