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.