Writing for Children by Rebecca Talley

Many people make the mistake of thinking that writing for children is easier than writing for adults. That’s simply not true.

Children are much smarter than many adults think. They can spot a condescending tone, a sermon disguised as a story, or false notions wrapped in truth. Kids are savvy consumers and definitely know what they like and don’t like to read.

Writing for children demands the same kind of commitment to detail, dedication to research, and smooth writing techniques that adults expect. In fact, writing for children can be even more demanding because of the tight word counts and adherence to vocabulary/comprehension levels.

If you are interested in writing for kids, you might want to consider the following advice:

Spend time with children. You can do this by volunteering at a school, a Boys’ and/or Girls’ club, library, or after-school program.

Get to know the kids. Ask them questions and listen to their answers. Observe the kinds of books they read, the games they play, and the way they speak. Try to discover what issues concern them.

Read. In order to understand the children’s market, you need to be familiar with the books that kids read. Read from a variety of genres to see what is expected in each genre. Learn the vocabulary that populates children’s books and magazines. Determine what issues are acceptable for which age groups. Get a feel for the word count in each category of children’s books.

Share your writing with kids. Ask schools and/or libraries if you can read your story to their kids. You’ll be able to tell what works and what doesn’t when you read your work to your target audience. After you read, ask questions to determine how the kids understood your story. Apply what you learn to your work.

Observe kids. Take a notebook and go to a park. Listen to the kids play. Watch how they react to each other and their mannerisms. Pay attention when you’re at a restaurant, movie theater, or the mall.

Make a librarian your BFF. A librarian can tell you what books are popular, what the kids like to read about, and how they react to specific storylines. Take some time to pick a librarian’s brain and you’ll find she has golden nuggets of information.

Writing for children is as difficult as writing for adults, but it’s also very rewarding. Using your words to create a story that touches the life of a child is one of the greatest rewards of writing.

Rebecca Talley grew up in Santa Barbara, CA. She now lives in rural CO on a small ranch with a dog, a spoiled horse, too many cats, and a herd of goats. She and her husband, Del, are the proud parents of ten multi-talented and wildly-creative children. Rebecca is the author of a children’s picture book “Grasshopper Pie” (WindRiver 2003), three novels, “Heaven Scent” (CFI 2008), “Altared Plans” (CFI 2009), and “The Upside of Down” (CFI 2011), and numerous magazine stories and articles. You can visit her blog at www.rebeccatalleywrites.blogspot.com.