Sunday, October 7, 2012

Elements of a Good Children’s Book


A guest post by Sara Dawkins

While there is certainly no shortage of children’s books lining the shelves of bookstores these days, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all the books available are good children’s books. It takes a special understanding of children to really be able to write in a way that makes them want to keep reading, which is something that many authors struggle with as they try to cater their writing to children. To really capture the elements of a children’s book that make it worth reading, consider these five elements as you brainstorm and write:

1.    Determine your target age group. Before you start writing you need to determine the target age group you want to market your book to and then begin researching that age group. Read as many books as you can that are geared towards that age group so that you can start to see what each author does that works and that doesn’t work. This will help prepare you to write your own book that is tailored to that demographic.

2.    Write from the perspective of the children. One of the major downfalls of children’s books is that the author is writing about children of a certain age, but they lack a full understanding of that age group, making them unable to accurately portray events and objects from their point of view. When you write you have to remember that you’re an adult, so you’re going to see things differently. Get down on the floor to view rooms, check out kids’ TV shows and the games they are playing, run across the playground and play on the playground equipment – become the age of your characters so that you can really write from that perspective.

3.    Include elements of humor. Whether your book is meant to be comical, mysterious, or sentimental you should include elements of humor throughout it. Kids enjoy humorous situations that they can relate to – even if it’s just a paragraph to lighten the mood. One great example of using humor to connect with the children you’re writing for is the book Stop! Do Not Read This Book! by Robyn Opie Parnell. This humorous book deals with some of the trials and tribulations that kids go through during adolescence, but does so with an element of humor that engages kids to keep reading.

4.    Take the reader on an adventure. Every good story will have a hurdle that the protagonist will need to overcome before they reach a resolution and gain understanding of why something happened and how it’s affecting them as an individual. In Robyn Opie Parnell’s book Maya and the Crystal Skull, Maya has to deal with the fact that her mother has passed away and her father has gone missing. Maya is thrown into a historical adventure that has her uncovering clues that take her closer to understanding exactly why certain events in her life have happened. To write a good children’s book you need the protagonist to go up against different obstacles like this and come out stronger in the end.

5.    Include a lesson at the end. At the end of a children’s book children should be able to take away some sort of lesson from the story. Maybe it’s to never give up, maybe it’s that everything happens for a reason, maybe it’s to respect your parents – whatever it is, they should have a clear understanding of this lesson without it feeling like they were being lectured throughout the book.
 
Writing children’s books is no small feat, but when they’re written correctly they can have a lasting impact on the children who read them.

Author Bio
Sara is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.  Learn more about her http://www.nannypro.com/blog/sara-dawkins/.


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