I’d like to share my thoughts to help those people who aspire to write children’s books. When I say children’s books, I am referring to kids age 6 and younger. You can consider me as part of your potential target market. I am a parent to a five year old who I’ve been reading since birth. My son enjoys story-telling at night. We read at least two books every night before going to bed. I also make an effort to visit our local library to support his interest in reading. This way it will help him broaden his knowledge, imagination and vocabulary.
As a parent who reads a lot of books to his child, here are my ten tips for writing interesting children’s books for ages 6 and below.
1. Write something short – I can’t say the number of pages but it should be relatively short. As much as the child loves to listen or read a book at night, a lot of them still have short attention span. So despite how good the story is, if it’s too long it makes it daunting for both parents and the kid to finish the entire book. Keep your story amusing but straight to the point. Short enough for the kids to listen to but not cumbersome for parents to read at night. Leave your long stories to children who can read or young adults.
2. Make the story relevant – Write something about play time, experiences in school, making friends, finding friends, dealing with other people, life changes that relates to being a kid (ex. being a big brother, expecting a new addition to the family, dressing up, house chores, etc.), pet story, family story, toys, parent-child relationship, Holidays and even the silliness of being a kid. For example, No, David! by David Shannon. This book is a household favorite. My son loves this book because I think he sees himself in the character. In short, he could simply relate which is very important. This book is about the love of parents have for their children even when they misbehave. It is humorous, mischievous and can be easily comprehended by young kids because the story reflects themselves and their environment.
3. People in general are visual, including kids. Make the pictures huge, informal and colorful – You don’t need to draw the perfect picture or hire the greatest artist. If it’s informal, playful and visually moving, it will be great! Most books that kids enjoy usually have large pictures that occupy the entire space of the page, some doodle-like, unofficial and imperfect.
To check out the list of other amazing David Shannon books: Go to Amazon.com
4. Inject good vocabulary – Help the kids and the parents add more words or exercise their knowledge in vocabulary. If the book tends to be for much younger audience, emphasize important words such as “Thank You”, “Please” or “You’re Welcome.”
5. Write books with purpose – For example, if you are writing a book with purpose to teach early readers – Pick some words you used in the book and list them in either the front or back page of the book to promote some activity or practice. This provides some interaction between the parent and the child to review and learn the words in your books together. As a parent, it helps me teach my kid how to read and practice reading. Other books with purpose are those books with goals to teach good manners, right conduct, how to manage situations, how to adapt with their new or existing environment or simply teaching them how to eat vegetables.
6. Remember that the title is important to the child while the subtitle is important to the parent – The main title helps the kid decide whether the books will be enjoyable for him/her or not, but the parents (who pay for the book) will confirm based on the subtitle of the book because it summarizes what it is all about. Just like this book, Piggy and Pebbles. The title is simple, catchy and easy to remember for kids while the subtitle, “Anti-Bullying Story” can be something that parents are looking for.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
7. Know your target market or to whom are you writing for – Know that your target market could be one of these categories: Parents, kids, educators, other authors or aspiring children book writers, researchers, people who make movies and alike. So make sure that your story “talks” to the right target market. Knowing the right age group is one key to your success.
8. Although book publishing is a business you may need to give away books to some of your target market to test the waters. – You may also donate to libraries (contact your local library for example) to reach out to a broader audience and publication.
9. Write something entertaining – Write a story that has movement and voice that blend together as the reader turns the page and cultivates imagination to the listener. Make it exciting for both the readers and listeners to turn the page and build hope to see what happens next. You can do this either by enhancing your book visually, using suitable words or just simply writing easy-to-follow story lines.
10. Poopoo, peepee, tushies, burping, picking noses and common mistakes are usually funny subjects for children – Also, anything that makes noise (musical books), flickering lights (yes, some books have lights in them), felt papers for touch and buttons that “do something” such as making noise or any recognizable sounds will help to engage young readers.
Hope this list helps. Don’t forget to leave comments below for your questions or feedback!