Writing for Children – Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child
There are certain books that children want to read time and time again. Those perennial favourites that are the building blocks for nurturing a love of reading in kids. But what is it about these books that keeps kids, and parents, coming back for more?
Photo - Green Bean Collection | Featured Book - Green Bean's Bedtime
What do children want from a book?
Just because they are younger in years, it doesn’t mean that childrens’ appetite for a decent story is any less so than it is for adults. In fact, children can be even more discerning than adults when it comes to what they choose to read – and choose to read again!
No doubt you will have come across books that don’t really ‘do’ it for you. Sometimes you’ll stop reading and choose a different book, but more often than not, once you’re already a few chapters into a book, you’ll keep trudging through it hoping it might improve.
Kids are far less likely to stick with something they’re not enjoying. If a book is trying too hard, if it favours the concept over the story, if it’s just a little boring or too preachy, they will lose interest and opt for something else to read.
Children essentially want the same things out of books that adults do:
· Interesting characters
· Compelling plot
· Good rhythm and flow of language
· To be entertained
Above all, they want a good story!
Photo - Green Bean Collection | Team
A world full of wonder
Can you remember what life was like as a young child? When everything is new, interesting, magical? Children live in a world of superlatives – the most, the best, the biggest! Everything is exciting; everything is important.
All too often, adults forget this awe at everything. The wonder of the simple, everyday things that us grown-ups have become too busy, too tired, too jaded to notice anymore.
Children never cease being amazed by the ordinary. They make the everyday into the extraordinary. Those children’s authors who can tap into this childlike wonder often write stories that children love the most.
To write successfully for children, you need to first think like a child; to see the world through their lens. It’s that feeling that makes you want to pluck a dandelion from the lawn and blast the seeds across the sky with your breath, instead of tutting about weeds being on your grass and needing to get the lawn mower out again…
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”― Madeleine L'Engle
The biggest mistake when writing for kids is thinking they are different to adults. Yes, they are physically and mentally less developed, but their desire to be amazed, to feel, to wonder, to discover, to be entertained matches our own.
To write stories kids love, authors need to get out of their adult minds, capture that feeling of wonder and bring an element of ‘fun’ into their writing. Whether that is through playing with words, memorable and relatable characters, or taking young readers on a journey with a well-told story.
Photo - Author Anita Frost - Green Bean Collection
Do you have any useful tips on writing for children? Follow me on Twitter @MelBrannlund and join the conversation – I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Look out for Melissa's latest articles on Anita Frost's author website, where she'll talk about topics including business and publishing, author news and events, and giving back to communities. You can find her in-depth monthly feature on the News & Media page of the Green Bean Collection website, discussing children's books and reading, early years education, living a greener lifestyle and all things Green Bean!
Inspiration & Events
Melissa Brannlund is the features writer and editor, for author Anita Frost.
Look out for Melissa's latest articles on Anita Frost's author website, where she'll talk about topics including business and publishing, author news and events, and giving back to communities.
You can find her in-depth monthly feature on the News & Media page of the Green Bean Collection website, discussing children's books, reading, and all things Green Bean! For more information or any queries, please contact Melissa by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.