Genre Spotlight: Children’s Books
There’s a pretty big misconception that it’s easy to write a children’s book. Writers think as long as you have unicorns and some subtle potty humor, kids will love it. But it’s actually one of the hardest books genres to write well. If you are considering writing children’s books, here are five things to consider.
Know Your Demographic.
Believe it or not, it’s just a cliche to say you’re writing a book for all ages. That book just doesn’t exist. The way you tell a story to a two-year-old is a lot different than the way you tell a story to a twelve-year-old. Figure out important demographics of your target age range: their vocabulary level, attention span, what they’re focused on developmentally…there’s a lot of audience research that should happen.
The hero needs to win.
There’s a time and a place for existential crises and twist endings. A children’s book, however, is not one of them. Kids are learning how stories are told, how to make predictions, and they get emotionally invested in characters. Children’s books are not for tough love. They’re not for teaching kids that the world is cold. They’re for letting kids believe that, if they do everything right, there is such as thing as happily ever after.
Have a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end.
You’re dealing with limited attention spans. Subplots and flashbacks aren’t for children’s books. Figure out what story you want to tell and tell it as simply as you can.
The book market is oversaturated with stories about princesses and superheroes. How can you stand apart from the others?
Find the right illustrator.
Kids’ books need pictures. If you’re writing for toddlers, you need a lot of bright colors, simple shapes, and common items…think yellow ducks, red cars, white milk bottles, and brown cows. A book for a ten-year-old may not need a photo on every page, but it still needs something to help the reader imagine what is going on. Choose an illustrator who understands your audience. And don’t be afraid to communicate your vision.