Friday, May 11, 2012

Writing for Kids

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Have you ever written a children's book?

I'm working on some now, and I have to tell you, there is a lot more too it than I originally thought. Did you know that picture books have 32 pages? Go ahead, go count some, I can wait...

I counted the pages in probably 30 picture books this week, and 98% of them have 32 pages. Who knew?!

As a mom of four children, I had a pretty good idea of what I did and didn't want from a children's book. No bad roll models, simple yet entertaining, and the proper format of the letter 'a' - you know, the one we teach our little's to recognize.

The best picture books, are the ones that can be read through in less than 2.5 minutes, but that your children want to spend hours reading over, and over, and over, and over again. Sure, you get sick of them, but it's because they are so good. They are the books that are fun to read, the ones that just seem to invite you to use expression. So that's what I'm working towards. Those are my goals.

I checked out a couple of books about writing for children from the local library... The only two books they had on the topic. One is from Europe, and pretty hard to follow. It talks about selling books for a certain price in a currency that I know nothing about. The author seemed to be very astonished by the difference in price and sales between children's fiction and adult fiction, but I have absolutely no clue what that difference was... Don't get me wrong, part of the book has been a bit helpful, but I won't be recommending it. I have barely touched the first chapter of the other one, but it's not looking too promising either.

The ministry owner that I'm writing these books for sent me the following advice:
1. Read positive and negative feedback for other children's book and find out what people are saying about books they don't like and ones they do like - typically for bad reviews it is:


  1. poor formatting 
  2. characters setting a poor example for the kids  
  3. poor editing / grammar       
  4. not fun / poorly written / did not sustain interest for the child        
  5. mistakes not picked up by the author / editor

2. Test the stories on kids and find out what they like, although this is also evidenced by what is selling well already on amazon.
But what about you?

Do you have any qualities that you like or dislike in children's books?

Any books on writing for kids that you would recommend?

I'd love to hear from you!

No, really.

Why is it so quiet?

2 comments:

  1. What I dislike in childrens book: Things that go against the Word of God (witchcraft, idolatry, greediness, etc.) But I don't think that will be a problem coming from you! :)

    I'm excited to hear all about this book!

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  2. I discovered this blog post through my google alert for "writing for kids" -- I'm a prepublished writer of kids' books, and I agree that there is a definite learning curve. Writing quality children's books is not easy!

    I recommend Ann Whitford Paul's "Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication."

    I also STRONGLY recommend that you join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) -- there is a wealth of information and connection available there, as well as regional, national and international conferences that provide incredible experience and opportunity.

    Finally, if you can afford to take a class or join an ongoing online group, I recommend Emma Walton Hamilton's online/home study course Just Write for Kids (http://www.justwriteforkids.com) which is an 8 week course in how to write a picture book. I found it invaluable, and subsequently joined her Children's Book Hub, the Expert Interview and Question and Answer monthly webinars alone are worth the monthly fee. The Children's Book Hub also has a Facebook group (just search Childrens Book Hub) that is free, and it's also a great place to network and share resources found on the internet.

    All the best to you!

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The main reason I write is to help other authors. I would love your feedback or suggestions for future posts or devotions. You can leave a public comment here, or use my contact form to send me a private message.