Do You Want To Write For Children?
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Do You Want to Write for Children?

I told an acquaintance of mine that I thought writing for children must be very satisfying.

He was amazed at my comment. For him, authors wrote for children because they were not good enough to write for adults.

I thought this was an incredibly unenlightened comment. But writing for children does not get the respect it deserves. Teaching young children is another area which isn't respected.

People think writing for children and teaching them is easy and anyone can do it!

In contrast, a creative writing instructor told his class if you want to know something about a topic read a children’s book on the subject written by an expert in that field. You have to know a subject thoroughly to write about it for children.

If you want to be seen writing young children's books, you must know and be able to say why you are and believe in your chosen path.

Thinking you would enjoy it won’t be enough.

  • Have you told stories to your children and they responded well to them? This does not necessarily lead to successful writing.
  • Do you consider yourself a person who can read children’s stories well and therefore is capable of writing well? Be aware this is not necessarily true.
  • Have you chosen to write for children because you are not confident enough to write for adults? Writing for children isn't any easier if you want to write a book that influences lives.

Do these reasons sound inspiring to you?

A children’s writer needs to enter the child’s world with adult skills to bring it alive.

Adults put up with reading a lot of rubbish because they want to escape for a short time from the trials of everyday life. Romance, science fiction, crime and horror stories are full of poorly written material which sells.

Publishing is big business and publishers know why adults buy their titles. Adults also fall for strategic marketing!

An interesting fact is many adults buy books and never read them. Many adult books are also written to a formula.

Children won’t read everything suggested to them. I have been in school libraries where most of the fiction titles on the shelves were ignored.

Picture stories are often very appealing but yet again many books are ignored by children. You know why a book is ignored when you read it to a class and the children are wriggling around.

One of the most successful picture story writers is Mem Fox. She really enjoys writing except for picture story books.Picture books are a challenge to write. Re-writing many times is essential. A writer has to use a limited vocabulary to tell the story. Fox gives the example of her picture story, Koala Lu. That took two years of rewriting to produce!

Then why does she continue to do it?

To hear a child say,” I like your books Mem Fox.”

I fully understand her reason, but she is also passionate about children’s literacy and has devoted most of her working life to promoting it.

A children’s author has a responsibility to introduce the world to a child.

Writers of picture stories for children are teachers of reading and writing even if they are unaware of it. They need to write easily understood sentences and use repetition, rhyme and rhythm.

A children’s writer must write for children and not about them.

Successful children’s authors also write for themselves. When they write for the child within, they will reach other children.

Children are very proud of their progress when they reach the stage of reading chapter books.

Authors who can write this type of fiction have an audience who believe they have finally grown up.

Anyone who wants to write for children has to do some research first. Knowing what is being published and how stories are being told is essential knowledge.

Life is fast paced today and writing styles have changed to reflect this. You will also need to find out what subjects are popular with children. You will need to browse in bookshops, libraries, schools. Visiting nursery schools and talking to children are all necessary to understand the world children live in.

Marketing your work is also on the agenda. Presenting a manuscript to a publisher is just the beginning.

I have had many authors visit libraries I managed to promote their books.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing.

Ask yourself repeatedly:

  • What do I want to say?
  • What words do I choose to express my idea?
  • What idiom or image will make my idea clearer?
  • Can I put my idea more simply?

A writer has to learn humility and never to be totally satisfied with the work produced A manuscript does need editing and rewriting often a number of times.

For some expert tips click here.

If you want to write for children have a go. The Internet has changed publishing and you will find many more opportunities to promote your work.

If you have a passion for writing don’t let anything stop you.

Street Talk

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