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Boomers Write – Writing Genres - Children

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Remember your Childhood when writing for Kids

Do you remember what interested you, what captured your attention, what got you excited when you were a child? Think of those things when writing for children.
When writing for kids, the most important thing to consider is the age group you are targeting. For children up to 7 years old, you can be as imaginative and fanciful as you like. First, decide on the ‘voice’ of your story or poem. You must choose a character (or two, or three) and simply let them speak just like a child would speak.
If the character speaks with honesty, little readers will listen. Another trick of the trade is to imagine that you are telling the story to a child that you know. Imagine how they might react as you relate the magical tale about to unfold. Of course, you should dig into your own childhood to remember how the world appeared to you. Remember lying back on the grass and watching those furry creatures float across the sky? How about dreams of pirates and buried treasure beneath far away azure seas?
Children’s books are written to delight children with tales of wonderment. There is no need to work hard at educating them about something here, as they will more easily learn to read, if they are caught up in the story. Maintain a rhythm and momentum throughout your tale and make your story like the best carnival ride a child has ever been on. Also, remember that small children have short attention spans, so you want to keep them rapt throughout.
When talking about children’s books, we are also talking pictures. Children react to pictures, before they ever learn the words. It is important to create pictures that reflect the words written on the page that are colorful, lively and age appropriate. Children also love to laugh, so you can be as silly and creative as you please.
If you are not an artist yourself, you will need to find someone with whom you can collaborate. On another part of this site, I write about networking and how it can be invaluable to you for finding the help that you need when you need it. If you’re smart, which I am assuming you are, you should be able to get the graphics for an entire children’s book and cover for $500 or less.
When I was preparing my children’s book, “Talking To My Angel,” I began collaborating with a female artist in Texas. Although I am in Canada, we had no problem getting the work done. It was simply a matter of e-mailing her each page, along with a note describing exactly what I wanted. I might have just gotten lucky, but this can be done, no matter the distance. (The end result was that I offered her a percentage of my royalties as well, though my publisher felt this was too generous.) It is up to you to decide what type of arrangement you wish to have. Either way, it will be necessary to write up a short contract, which is signed by both of you for legal purposes.
It is also important to consider whether your market will be boys, girls or both. There are some things boys like that little girls have no interest in and vice versa. For just little boys, you can feel free to write about sports, insects, dinosaurs and so on, while little girls seem to be happier reading about fairies, dancing and dolls. I in no way want to sound like I’m labeling either sex here, but there are subjects that appeal to both, such as school, family, friends and animals.
Though young children love color, you may have to use it sparingly if you want to get your first children’s book published. Color is expensive and many publishers don’t want to take on a costly project. Try something like drawings, with just hints of color here and there to liven it up. Also, make sure you use a big font, so the story is easy for little eyes to learn to read.
For children 8 and up, you can break your children’s book into chapters. Be original, but for these youngsters, keep it real. Children are smarter than you think and will know if your story is too far out there. They can be the harshest critics. Create lively characters and an imaginative plot. Don’t moralize, but rather get the message across in your story. Note that editors particularly like stories that touch on multicultural issues and/or have ethnic characters. Also, consider a story that is not seasonal, as you don’t want your book to become outdated too quickly. As well, go for an idea that will have a wide appeal.
For children ages 12 and up, you should aim for stories that cover such topics as school, friends and family.

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