Seven Tips for Writing Children's Nonfiction

Here are seven tips from Brandon Marie Miller on researching and writing children's nonfiction.
Author:
Publish date:

"Teachers are clamoring for good nonfiction they can use in their classrooms. Librarians want nonfiction for their students doing reports. Publishers want nonfiction that is exciting and different. Kids love nonfiction. It's a huge market," says Brandon Marie Miller, author of award-winning middle grade nonfiction titles like Buffalo Gals and Just What the Doctor Ordered. Here are seven tips from Miller on researching and writing children's nonfiction:

  1. Start broad. Start at the library and search by subject. Look for recent books to help you get a broad idea about your subject. It's helpful to look at footnotes, bibliographies, acknowledgments, prefaces — they point you to other sources. Read everything.
  2. Use primary sources. Read journals and diaries as well as old newspapers, paintings, photographs and catalogs, and even advertisements, popular songs and period literature.
  3. Narrow down your topic. Start with a broad base then focus as you research. You can't write an 800-word article on the Civil War, but you can write a great piece on Civil War nurses, soldiers' uniforms or the biography of a general. Take a topic in a new direction. That's what editors look for.
  4. Be organized. Everyone has her own system; writing information on index cards works for me. Outlines help keep you on track and helps set up a theme for your book. But remember that an outline is never written in stone — go where the research takes you.
  5. Don't pass up quirky facts. Kids find quirky facts fascinating — they love juicy details and can see humor in things.
  6. Enjoy your research. I've been assigned topics I thought weren't the least bit interesting. But when you start doing research you will find something interesting. Enjoy the process.
  7. Write about what interests you. You can't catch a trend. Write about what you like. Children's nonfiction is wide open when it comes to topics. If you're interested in cooking, write an article about the history of a type of food. If you have tips on how a teenager can organize her bedroom, that's a great article. You can explore science topics, holidays, careers — the possibilities are endless.

To find listings for hundreds of publishers of children's writing for any genre, check out the current edition of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The May/June 2021 Issue, a Chance at Publication, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce that the May/June 2021 “Curiosity” issue is now live in the WD shop, there’s still time to have your From Our Reader’s response selected for publication in the July/August 2021 “Bravery” issue, and more!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 18

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write an ekphrastic poem.

Personal Essay Awards

Announcing the First Annual Personal Essay Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the first annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards!

From Script

Movie Theatres Return While Indie Cinema and TV Turns to Horror and Beyond (From Script)

In this week’s round-up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, read movie reviews from cinephile Tom Stemple. Plus, exclusive interviews with Amazon’s Them creator and showrunner Little Marvin, horror film Jakob’s Wife director Travis Stevens, a history lesson with Dr. Rosanne Welch about trailblazer screenwriter Anita Loos, and much more!

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 17

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a waiting poem.

GettyImages-119430542

Your Story #112

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

Self-Published Ebook Awards

Announcing the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 8th Annual Self-Published E-book Awards! Discover the titles that placed in the categories of contemporary fiction, fantasy, memoir, mystery, and more.

Greg Russo: On Writing a Film Based on a Video Game

Greg Russo: On Writing a Screenplay Based on a Video Game

Professional screenwriter Greg Russo discusses the joy and challenge of converting a popular video games series into a screenplay and the balance of enticing a new audience while honoring a franchise's fans.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Day 16

Write a poem every day of April with the 2021 April Poem-A-Day Challenge. For today's prompt, write a city poem.