Writing Children’s Books
Writing Children’s Books, is a unique experience, with specific features and challenges. Most importantly, never write down to children. They know when you’re patronizing, even if they don’t know the word, they know when something is off. Write to them, and you will make a friend.
Memories of a beloved children’s book can stay with a child to adulthood. Creating a good one takes time. Also not all children’s literature are the same. There are picture books, short stories, children’s novels, pre-teen, and teenage literature, just to name a few. Each can be memorable, but are very different.
Picture books are generally thirty two pages. That usually means four pages of preliminaries, and twenty eight pages of text. While the pictures will need to be the focus, the text needs to be extremely strong. That is because it also needs to balanced, you won’t use a lot of words, but you must use well chosen ones.
Children’s short stories should create either a world, or an experience. A world doesn’t mean you traverse an imaginary globe, but that you build something that children’s imagination can explore. An experience is more focused on one event, that should feel identifiable to a child. A book about Santa would be an example of a world, while a hippopotamus’ trip to the doctor would be an experience.
A children’s novel must include both world and experience, and take you on a quest. It should create a world to explore, give a set of experiences, and succeed in winning a quest. Telling children there are challenges, but you can overcome, speaks to their future.
Teenage literature deserves it’s own section, but I’ll mention something briefly. Teenagers are unique, and their stories should be too. There are adventure fables, coming of age stories, and more. My favorites are the ones that say, adulthood is ahead, but hold onto the spark of childhood in your hearts.
Write as a child to a child, not an adult trying to sound like a one. Write to what spoke to you as a child. These are not cultural references, but hopes, dreams, and the overcoming of childhood fears. These things are timeless, and if written well, your children’s books can be too.