Saturday, June 3, 2017

Resources for Those Writing Books for Children

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

Recently, through my writing group and the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several writers who are working on writing a children’s book. 

In my conversations with them, I learned the they often chose to write for the younger reader for several reasons.

Reasons We Write Children’s Books
They remember a favorite book from their childhood. Many of us have a story that we remember that special someone reading to us or that we crawled into a secret place to escape to read. The book may have opened a new world to us or pointed out new strengths we’d never considered.

Or the writers are enjoying reading to their child or grandchild and want to share something new with them. This often reminds us of a quieter time with the little loved one next to us or in our laps sharing a story together.

In each case, we see the power of a book to bring people together (You Are Special) or to transform how we see our world (The Chronicles of Narnia). For many of us, it’s to show how Christ is real in our lives and is powerful in the child’s life today.

Children’s Books Come In Four Styles
Children’s books come in different styles matching the child’s ability.  The earliest are board books, with thick covers suited for little fingers and gums. The target ages are zero to three. The books only have about 300 words and are written to be read to the child.

The next group is picture books. These are written for four- to eight-year-olds or preschool to second grade. Think Where the Wild Things Are or The Story of Ferdinand. They can be anywhere between 24 and 32 pages long.

If you are writing your book to be published, publishers normally only want you to send the text, not the illustrations. They’ll match your words to one of their illustrators.

Easy to read books are written for first graders. The young readers are to begin reading for themselves so the vocabulary is very simple. An example is the I Can Read series.

Then we progress to the chapter books for seven- to ten-year-olds. These have 45 to 60 pages and are broken into short chapters containing less pictures and more text. Captain Underpants and The Magic Tree House are some examples. There is a demand for books in this category geared to boys to encourage them to read.

The message of a child’s book can last a lifetime. In the movie, The Blindside, Leigh Ann, Sandra Bullock’s character, takes her children into a bookstore. When she’s ready to go, she finds them sitting in the children’s section sharing their favorite books from their childhood with Big Mike, who didn’t have a family when he was growing up. The next scene shows her in bed reading The Story of Ferdinand to her son and their guest, Leigh Ann’s daughter listening in the hall.

Resources for Writing Children’s Books
If you are interested in writing a children’s book either to read to your family or to be publish, let me share some resources that have been recommended to me.

Cyle Young, a literary agent and a winner of awards in multiple genres, recommends Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul.

Michelle Medlock Adams, whose book God Loves You won the Selah Book of the Year Award in 2014 and who has written over 45 children’s books, taught Writing for Children Boot Camp at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference this year. She said the following books have been very helpful to her and sitting on her shelf:

Children’s Writers Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner

Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz



The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators has been highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about writing in this field.

Another resource that I recommend, and think is the most important, is a child. Be sure to pass the book by at least one in the age group you’re writing for and watch their response. They will let you know how they honestly feel about your story.

Theodor Geisel
 In 1990, a German author named Theodor Geisel published his last children’s book before he died. Even to this day, each May it graces the New York Times Bestsellers. Oh, The Places You Will Go by Dr, Suess is a perennial graduation gift because of its simple but wise message.

And for most of the writers I spoke to, that was what they were seeking. To place some wisdom into the heart of a child. What a wonderful goal that is for any of us.

TWEETABLES


Tim Suddeth has been published in Guideposts’ The Joy of Christmas and on www.christiandevotions.us. He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He is a member of ACFW and Cross n Pens. Tim’s lives in Greenville, SC with his wife, Vickie, and his happy 19-year-old autistic son, Madison.  Visit Tim at www.TiminGreenville.com and on Facebook and Twitter. He can be also reached at timingreenville@gmail.com.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you, Tim for this helpful concise information all in one place for easy access.

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  2. Tim, you are faithful in sharing informative information. Thank you.
    Share on!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Carolyn, for your encouragement.

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  3. Great post, Tim. Thanks for the many tips, and the brief history lesson.

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