How To Write Children's Books: Book Writing Tips

Writing Children's Books and Creating Children's Literature

Do you dream of being the next Dr. Seuss or maybe writing a classic picture book like "Goodnight Moon?"  Or maybe you'd like to write the next great children's nonfiction book.  Creating children's literature may not be as easy as it seems, but you can increase your chances of getting published if you follow a few basic steps. To learn how, read on! 

Here are some tips if you're interested in creating books for children:

  1. Choose your audience.  There is nothing worse than a children's book that is too far above or too far below the level of your audience.  Try sticking to a specific age and matching your story to that age.  By choosing too broad of a range of ages, you are more likely to lose the oldest and youngest children's attention with your story.  For instance, if you want to write a picture book, cater to the younger child's interests.  If you want to write more of a story-based novel, you will need to design that for an older audience.
  2. Research reading ability for that age level.  This goes with knowing your audience.  If you choose words to describe things in your story that are too advanced or too elementary, you are not going to keep the children's attention.  There are books available that outline words and phrases at each age level that they should be able to read and understand.  One such book that is a good resource is called Children's Writer's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner.  This book can help enhance any children's stories you're writing.
  3. Read as many children's books as possible.  One of the best tips on writing a book that I ever received was to start by reading more.  Reading books at the same level you wish to write is probably the best way to get a feel for how your book should be.  Notice the length of sentences, phrasing, size of the book, and descriptions.  You should not copy these books, but get the feel for how a book for children should be written and in what style.  Reading lots of these will help you decide whether your topic will make a good story for kids, and will also give you fresh ideas about how to write a children's book of your own.
  4. Brainstorm ideas.  Once you get a feel for the right level of children's books, sit down and brainstorm ideas.  Think about plot, setting, characters, and any lessons to be learned.  Writing children's books often goes faster if you start with a rough outline and go from there, adding in more details and specific nuances.  If you are also an artist, it may be helpful to sketch any pictures that go along with your story.  By drawing it or imagining it in picture form, you may pick up some details that should be described that you may not have originally thought of when writing it out.  Always remember that stories for kids should be very visual; even if your book won't have pictures, it's best to include lots of descriptive phrases so your audience can easily picture what's happening.
  5. Write a draft.  Now it's time to write!  A rough draft is a good place to start.  Get into as much detail as possible in this draft.  You can always cut out unnecessary parts when you edit.  It is usually a lot easier to cut things out than to insert ideas later to make your story longer or more complete.  After you write your draft, set it aside for a day or two and then come back to read it again and edit or fill in any missing details. Good book writing often involves more editing than actual writing!
  6. Let a child read the story.  When you're creating books for kids, it's a great idea to get a kid's input on the work.  Sit down with a child in your target age group, if you know one, and read the story to her or let her read it.  Ask for ideas to make it better.  Think of this as a "test market" of sorts for your product.  If it doesn't hold her attention, try again!  You may want to try reading it to a group of children to see how different kids respond.
  7. Research publishers. Too often, books which are excellently written don't get picked up because the author sent her manuscript to the wrong publisher.  You can find information on publishers' preferences - age ranges, topics, and reading periods - in the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market; this annual publication will keep you up-to-date on what publishers want.

 

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