C is for Children!

As my target reading audience, they’re awfully important. So what’s important to them? And furthermore, what is relevant and appropriate subject matter for a young reader?

In her second edition of You Can Write Children’s Books, Tracey E. Dils summarizes the developmental characteristics of children ages infant through young adult. There are many important distinctions to note. For example, very young children have limited attention spans, so stories aimed at this group need to be brief, vibrant, and entertaining. Books for preschoolers and kindergarteners should start to introduce basic educational concepts in an enjoyable manner, while books intended for primary age children should acknowledge a deepening sense of empathy, humor, and an ever-improving attention span (hooray!).

As far as what matters most to young readers, and how to connect with that, the answer is harder to pin down. At least, it is for me and tonight’s very short blogging allowance. It’s a question I may have to revisit farther down the alphabet. But for now, I like how author Marilyn Singer puts it in her article, What Makes a Good Young Picture Book?

You have to write with all the skill of an adult who understands words, rhythm, rhyme, character, and story and all the heart and soul of a child who understands joy, anger, sorrow, and wonder in their purest form.

For those of you who have already asked these questions, what have you discovered? Did you manage to dispel any misconceptions along the way?

In closing, due in part to post-workday delirium, I must add that the C is also for cookie. That’s good enough for me.

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6 comments

  1. Great post! Once upon a time, I was very intrigued with writing children’s books. I did a lot of research, joined forums, looked at the “science” behind it and was amazed at the process that goes into writing for such young people. It’s harder than anyone would ever think! Maybe someday I’ll look into it again, but for now journalism/marketing writing is my cup of tea (and cookie!)! 🙂 ~ Angela, A to Z participant from Web Writing Advice (http://www.webwritingadvice.com/) and Whole Foods Living (http://wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/)

  2. What a great find! I’m bookmarking you. I’m trying to write a children’s book (middle grade) and it’s MUCH harder than I thought it would be! What a great learning experience, though. I’m loving it so far. Thanks for these resources. I’ll have to check out that book.

    1. It’s way easier to take cookies from children than it is from adults. But the serious answer is that I like kids. I vividly remember being one. Picture books were extremely important to me. I would like to earn the privilege of adding to that tradition. And I would never take away their cookies. From kids, that is. Adults are fair game.

  3. As a mom, I can also tell you that your book has to appeal to children, first, but it is going to get a lot more airplay if it is interesting enough to also appeal to mom (or dad). Because kids like the reread, so mom isn’t just going to read your book out loud once. She’s going to read it out loud five, or ten, or thirty times.

    I’m not ashamed to admit that when my children were small, there were books that I “lost” because the thought of reading them again made me want to commit an act of self-mutilation. 🙂

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