Five Tips for Writing Children’s Literature

The recent overwhelming success of the Harry Potter book series has shown the publishing world just how profitable stories geared toward young audiences can be. If you are interested in writing stories for very small children, here are five tips from The Children’s Writer’s Reference, a new resource book by Berthe Amoss (author of numerous children’s books) and Eric Suben (former editor of Golden Books):

  1. One thought per sentence. Keep your writing simple and uncluttered. If the sentence needs a comma anywhere but before or after attributions of dialogue, think about breaking it up into two sentences.
  2. Avoid cliched images. Remember your audience. Your cliche may be new to most children, so familiarity will not be an aid to understanding. Small children do not have a wide range of associations to use in understanding the image.
  3. Be literal. Writing in children’s books must be concrete. Focus on giving information your audience can perceive with their five senses.
  4. Provide captivating dialogue. You can express much more about your characters through their own words than you can through dry narration. Also, since your book will most likely be read aloud, providing different voices to be acted out often makes your book more enjoyable for the adult to read and the child to hear.
  5. Keep it simple. The trick in children’s books is to use as few words as possible. Avoid adverbs and adjectives where possible and use good active verbs. For example, instead of saying “He ran quickly,” say “He sped.”

To read more tips on writing successful children’s literature, pick up a copy of Berthe Amoss and Eric Suben’s book The Children’s Writer’s Reference.

And, to find listings for hundreds of publishers of children’s writing for any genre, check out the latest edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.

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