How to Write Children’s Books

Writing children’s books is not for everyone, but for those who aspire to touch the minds of children and perhaps influence their thinking, writing a book for children is no easy endeavor. When writing books for children, you enter a different world. There is a whole set of rules to follow and a completely different set of ideals or rules to remember. Becoming a successful children’s book author does not lie on the book alone, but also on how to promote your book wisely.

Writing books for younger children ages 2-8 are different from middle graders and young adults. Regardless, the first step to writing a book is to research and brainstorm. It will be especially helpful to read and get an idea of what kind of children’s books there are, what topics are usually most sought after, and the like. During this process, you will begin to establish several points including but not limited to:

  • What age bracket will your children’s book be in?
  • Will your book have illustrations? Or will you choose to have only text?
  • Will your story be fiction or non-fiction? Being an expert of a non-fiction topic will help a lot if you choose to write a non-fiction topic. For fictional topics, classics can be used as inspiration. Be careful not to plagiarize though.
  • You don’t need to limit your reading to the books of this era. It would be interesting to read stories that have withstood the test of time like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

When you have finally finished researching and brainstorming for your book and have decided on the basic aspects of it, it is time to consider what topics that interest your chosen bracket of readers. As expected, the plot of the story, the setting and the content has to be appropriate for your intended readers in order that it would be interesting. It is best to keep in mind that you should also be able to please the parents since they determine whether or not the child gets to read your book.

Should you decide on a younger age bracket, books for younger children are best when they are full of color and pictures. For older children, you may have a wider scope but it is likely that there will be more writing and research involved. Illustrations every once in a while may be sufficient and perhaps sometimes you could scrap them out entirely. Instead of illustrations, photography is another option in adding images to your book.

For fiction books, the next step in writing your children’s book would be to decide on the main components of your story. In every story there are always a few basic elements that a book can’t do without:

  • Main character(s)
  • Supporting character(s)
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Climax
  • Resolution

It may be a helpful note to consider including a moral to your storybook. Many children learn from the stories they read so including a positive message would go a long way. More complex topics such as caring for the environment, dealing with a death of a loved one or respecting other cultures may or may not include a straightforward message lest it be deemed awkward, which may not be pleasing from children’s perspective.

After deciding on all of the elements above, you are now ready to write your first draft. Don’t be afraid of how it sounds, it’s still up for some changes, so mistakes along the way are perfectly acceptable. Concentrate on getting the flow of your story on paper. An outline of the book would be especially helpful. Keep the age of your potential readers in mind. If you are writing for younger children, do not overly decorate your words; instead use short and simple words. If unsure, it would certainly help to talk to children with the same age bracket for whom you are writing. Take note of the kinds of words they frequently use and get an idea on how they learn things. It may help on incorporating this into your book.

Other than keeping in mind not to use too complicated words, you must also be weary not to use too simple words in your writing. Be careful not to “dumb down” your book too much. Being a writer is no easy task since you have to find a balance between the vocabulary of the majority of your potential readers and trying to maintain their interest without making it too easy or too complicated for them to read. Everyone likes a good fairytale, but too much of the good stuff may give your young reader a false perception of the world. Be realistic in your stories even if they are fiction.

Once you have finished with your draft, it is now ready to be revised. This step is not only done once, but up until the point when you feel your manuscript is polished. You may want to have several people (most especially children) proofread it for you and give you feedback about your story. Learn that not every story works, it is part of being a writer. You have to expect that not every storybook you make is golden. Learn to let go. Now that your book is finished, it is time to publish. You have the option of publishing the book yourself, or finding a literary agent. Publishing the book yourself is a respectable option today. Creating your book into an eBook can also do you wonders, and it will save you printing costs as well. When you self-publish, the amount of hard copies you want are entirely up to you. You may want to search online for companies that will help you publish or perhaps local copy stores. Many copy stores have options that allow you to print in full-color booklets. Some of these companies do better work than others, so it is very important to double check for the best one. Most importantly, when you self publish, sending a finished book to a traditional publishing house may give you an edge over others. The other publishing option is looking for a literary agent. You may want to send a query letter first and if they deem it interesting, they will usually reply with a request to see the manuscript. It may take them weeks or months to reply. When they do, they may ask you to change a few things to make it more appealing. You also have the option of sending your query letter straight to the publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts. This whole process may take months with no guarantee of a reply.


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