July 06, 2017
More than one famous author has said that of all the kinds of books out there, kids books may be the most important. Not only do kids books introduce children to the magic of reading, many studies have demonstrated that children who read more are smarter, have more empathy, and have better outcomes later in life. With so many significant impacts, it’s good to know what kids like, and how your book can have a positive impact on their lives.
Here are 5 quick tips to get you started:
Remember who you’re writing for
Some kids’ books focus on excitement but forget who they’re talking to. If you’re writing for a young audience, your sentences should be short and use simple language. Sure, you can use made up words if they fit your story, but stay away from “ten dollar” words and run on sentences. Aim for less than ten words in each sentence.
Stay creative, adventurous, funny
When choosing your topic, try to focus on things and situations that kids will be interested in. Stories that show kids having great adventures are a good choice – especially if it’s a unique kind of adventure. Don’t be afraid to get wildly creative. Dragons can talk and pigs can ride bicycles. And if it fits, make sure to include humor in your story. Kids love to laugh and the more fun reading is, the more they’ll want to do it.
Write for clarity and meaning
Related to the above, make sure you have a clear message in the book. A young reader should be able to tell you what your book was about. Was there a moral? Was there a clear beginning, middle and end so that kids can say “what happened”? On a related note, having simple character names can help too, at least in general. Having one character with a funny name like, say, Rumplestiltskin, can make your story stand out, too.
Use great illustrations
It’s hard to overemphasize how important good illustrations are. Great pictures don’t just provide visual interest but they help young readers interpret the meaning of your words. Is your main character angry or afraid? Great illustrations help readers attach emotion to the words and, in that way, expand the meaning.
Pay attention to pacing
As most parents know, kids like stories that move along quickly but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide detail. A large part of the art of writing kids books is balancing excitement with clarity and economy. In other words, say as much as you can, as clearly as you can, using as few words as you can. Focus on what’s essential in your story: the characters, the setting, the conflicts or challenges, and the resolution. This will prevent your story from bogging down and your readers from losing interest. As a children’s author, you have the opportunity to write a story that kids will remember for the rest of their lives.