Writing children’s books

This summer I am taking a class about writing children’s books. I became interested in writing children’s books because I really love writing with illustrations. Before this summer, I hadn’t had the opportunity to just sit down and discuss for hours at a time what the children’s market demands. I probably had wrongly assumed it was pretty easy to write a children’s book, because they are pretty simple books and I think a lot of the books on the market are simplistic and unattractive.

Indeed, it is easy to write a book for children, but it’s a lot harder to sell one. Children’s books have structure I wasn’t aware of (most of them are exactly 32 pages, example), and there is a ton of competition. In 200 words, it’s harder to stand out than in 10,000. An interesting guide-book we have looked at in class is “Writing Picture Books” by Ann Whitford Paul. Her book goes over all the steps necessary to prepare a manuscript for a children’s picture book. We have done some exercises in our class like writing a young child’s concept book or rewriting a fairy tale, both of which have been fun exercises. I still have a little trouble writing as simply as is required for such ages, but we always have something to improve.

I think writing for children can also be of interest to people only interested in writing for adults. Children’s demands aren’t that different from those of adults– snappy language, quick action, relatable characters. In kids books, the author must try to have scenes with visualizable illustrations, and adults like to have mental images of what they read as well. Kids books are often under 1000 words, so they are a very doable exercise length. If you’re interested, I recommend giving it a try. At worse, you’ll just have some fun and feel a bit childish!  =)

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