Get excited about writing children’s books! Write bestselling books for kids! Writing for kids can be rewarding: discover how to write bestselling kids’ books by knowing what your target readers want.
Writing Children’s Books for a Target Audience
First, choose your target readers: babies, toddlers, preschoolers, beginners or preteens. A story that’s a potential bestseller with one age group may fall flat with another.
It’s important to decide on the age level before you start writing: this will determine the kind of book you write, the length and complexity of your story, and the number, ages and treatment of your characters.
Studies in childhood development show that as kids grow from babyhood to the preteen years, they look for different kinds of books.
Writing Children’s Books for the Earliest Years: Toddler and Baby Books
Babies and toddlers love to listen to simple tales revolving round the familiar world of home, family and friends. Also popular are adventures of mischievous children, talking animals or toys that come alive.
Babies love to hear about the doings of other babies (especially naughty ones) and baby animals. Learn from bestselling baby books like Welcome, Little Baby by Aliki and Spot the Puppy by Eric Hill.
Toddlers enjoy stories with lots of repetition, catchy words and rhymes. Take a cue from favorite children’s books like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Jamberry by Bruce Degen. Toddlers also love to hear about the escapades of other kids and talking animals, as in the Alfie stories by Shirley Hughes and the Little Crittur series by Mercer Mayer.
Writing Children’s Books for Preschoolers
Although some preschoolers may have started to read by themselves, most will still have adults reading to them. How your story sounds is therefore very important; read it aloud — does it flow smoothly? Does the story hold your attention?
Books about family and school life are popular with preschoolers, especially if they’re funny stories with children or animals as the principal characters. Get a taste of kid humor from bestselling children’s books like Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.
Writing Children’s Books for Grade School Kids: Beginner Readers and Chapter Books
Beginner books — also called easy-to-reads — are for kids just starting to read by themselves. The writer’s aim is to make the reading experience a pleasurable one for the child, who can then claim to have read the book “all by myself”. This happy result comes about when the vocabulary and sentences are kept simple and concrete. Most beginner books run to only about 1,000 to 1,500 words, or between 40 and 64 pages.
Chapter books are for more advanced readers, and may range from 1,500 words to 10,000 words, or between 40 and 80 pages. They are usually divided into chapters of 3 to 4 pages each.
Grade school kids enjoy funny stories, and fast-paced adventure and fantasy stories revolving round family, school and friends. To understand what appeals to kids, look at popular children’s books like Kids of the Polk Street School series by Patricia Reilly Giff, the Babysitters Club series by Ann M Martin, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and sequels by Judy Blume.
Writing for Preteens
Preteens want their stories to zip along at a fast pace, with plenty of action, adventure and humor. They prefer protagonists who are their own age or slightly older: active, intelligent, resourceful characters capable of solving problems by themselves.
Preteens look for stories that address relationship and growing-up issues in a way they can identify with: books such as The Divorce Express and Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice?, both by Paula Danziger and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.
For more tips and ideas on writing children’s books, visit Creative Writing Ideas to help you write the best books for kids.
The author, Ursula Lang, is an avid reader, writer and editor of children’s books. She runs a publishing business and website, http://creativejuicesbooks.com/ where you’ll find lots of free creative writing tips, story writing ideas and other writers’ resources to help you write your best book.