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Although children’s books are typically shorter than adult fiction, it does not mean that they are simpler to compose.
When crafting a children’s book, there are a variety of factors to take into account, such as its target audience, legibility, storyline, protagonists, visuals, and many other components.
This article will provide insight into how to compose a successful children’s book. We have created an eleven-step guide and three pieces of advice, in addition to a template to assist you in beginning your project.
- I Want to Write a Children’s Book—Where Do I Start?
- What Makes a Good Children’s Book?
- 11 Steps on How to Write a Children’s Book
- 3 Tips to Help You Write Children’s Books
- Template to Help You Plan Your Children’s Book
- Conclusion on How to Write a Children’s Book
To make a successful story, it is important to have a fresh concept. Readers will not be interested in a book that resembles stories they have already read. If your idea is not completely original, try to come up with a new, creative approach.
Children’s books should be distinct and offer a novel experience for readers. The story and artwork should be remarkable and enthralling.
Creating solutions to problems can often lead to innovative ideas. Is there a particular issue that is close to your heart or to people you know (especially children)? Could you perhaps write a book about this problem and the process of resolving it?
When crafting a children’s book, it is essential to select an interesting subject. Doing so will keep you motivated throughout the entire writing process, as you will be more likely to remain dedicated until the work is finished.
Start brainstorming! Generate as many ideas as you can and you are more likely to find one that both you and the kids you are writing for will enjoy.
It is possible to craft a children’s book that appeals to both kids and adults. The key is to ensure the story is interesting and engaging for both age groups.
A good children’s book can be a powerful teaching tool, even for those that are considered fiction. It can impart an important moral lesson, such as the importance of being kind to others. It can also equip children with social-emotional skills, like facing their fears or standing up to bullies.
It is important for a book to be informative and provide explanations, but it should also be entertaining so that children and their guardians will enjoy it.
Children’s books that are entertaining often employ a variety of literary tools such as humor, rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia to draw in readers. Captivating illustrations that reflect the mood of the story can also be found in these books.
Decide Who Your Target Reader Is
Selecting your reader is the initial step in creating a children’s book. There is a vast array of options, ranging from board books to young adult literature. If you have identified the kind of book you would like to write, it is crucial to be aware of the age group of the kids you are writing for.
Different kinds of children’s books are designed for readers of different ages. Below is a guide that indicates the age range for each type of book and the average word count for each genre.
It is possible to have some flexibility when making a decision. For instance, if the main character in your story is five years old, you could select a format ranging from an early picture book to a chapter book.
Creating content for a particular age group requires more than just the suitable length of words. It is essential to take into account their reading ability as well.
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Age Ranges and Word Counts for Children’s Books
|Type of Book||Age Range||Word Count|
|Early Picture Books||2–5||200–500|
|Older Picture Books||4–8||600–1,000|
|Middle Grade Books||7–12||10,000–30,000|
|Young Adult Books||13–17||40,000–80,000|
The material should be suited to the age group. A book intended for children that is about shapes and colors is not likely to be an appropriate book for older kids. Similarly, a narrative about beginning middle school is likely to be of little interest to toddlers.
It can be difficult to distinguish between middle grade books, young adult novels, and new adult fiction. A thirteen year old may appreciate the message of a middle grade book even if it is more difficult to read due to its length.
Many adult readers enjoy young adult literature, while many young adults prefer the style and content of adult or new adult fiction. New adult is similar to young adult books in terms of its format, tone and pacing, but typically features characters aged over 18 and often includes explicit material.
Be specific in your marketing or when querying an agent about the age of your ideal reader. If you’re writing a young adult novel for older teens, you still need to consider reading level scores and appropriateness (kissing and fade-to-black can be okay, but explicit sex is not). However, you’ll use more traditional novel-writing advice
Once you have chosen the intended age group for your audience, it is time to begin your writing journey. Here are eleven steps that can guide you in creating a children’s book:
1) Decide What You Want Young Readers to Learn
When crafting children’s literature, it is recommended to start with the desired outcome in mind. Before you flesh out the details of your characters and the plot, consider what impact and message you are trying to communicate to your readers.
Begin by considering the desired outcome of your narrative. Are you aiming to educate? Encourage? Entertain? What emotion do you want to evoke in your readers?
After determining the main idea, decide what message you want to communicate to your readers. It is best to focus on one core concept, rather than trying to include too many themes in a children’s book. Keeping the main point of the story short and clear is most effective.
A lesson to be learned from a non-fiction book could be that lions are large felines which inhabit Africa or that lungs are necessary for respiration.
A work of fiction could impart the message that one is perfect just as they are, or that it is wise to reach out to an adult when feeling scared.
The main point of this will be to provide guidance when creating characters and organizing the story of your children’s book.
2) Pick Your Protagonist
When creating a children’s book, you should make sure to pick a main character. It is important to remember a few things when deciding who the protagonist should be.
The protagonist of your story should be someone that your target age group can relate to. If you choose a human or human-like character, they should be of a similar age as your intended readers.
The protagonist must be suitable for the kind of book being written. For example, protagonists in picture books do not need to be as developed as those in chapter books. Generally, a picture book will have a single plot line, while chapter books often contain several minor subplots.
If your protagonist’s age is vague, make them relatable in another way. Have them experience a common emotion: every kid knows what it feels like to be angry and sad. Or they could have relatable interests. In the book Rosa Loves CarsRosa is delightfully engaged in a pastime that many children adore– playing with cars.
Think about including a range of characters who come from different backgrounds. These characters could have different ethnicities, genders, and family structures, so that children from many different backgrounds can relate to them.
When creating children’s stories, it is important to consider the variety of characters that can be included. These can range from animals to mythical beings.
This is especially true for non-fiction books. The Baby University board books by Chris Ferrie and others do a great job of treating a concept like a protagonist. In Statistical Physics for BabiesThe protagonist of this story is a ball. We witness the journey of this ball as it visits various places, with more and more balls of different colors joining it on the way.
Playing with a ball can be a great way to illustrate the concept of statistical physics and entropy to children. Using this tangible object can help to make the concept more accessible and enjoyable for the young minds.
Create your protagonist with a sense of joy and excitement. Allow your inner child to take the lead and enjoy the process.
3) Decide on a Conflict
Once you have identified a main character and have determined the moral of your tale, it is essential to develop a conflict.
The protagonist of your story must go through a struggle in order to understand the moral of the tale. This is the foundation of the narrative, and the source of the plot.
The protagonist’s journey is determined by the main problem they face, so it is important to have a clear understanding of the conflict before beginning to craft the plot. Once the central conflict of the story is established, the writing process will become much simpler.
4) Create Other Characters
Books for very young readers may not require other characters, but many picture books and chapter books benefit from having a variety of characters to enhance the story.
The protagonist of a story often faces resistance in achieving their objective. This can come in the form of a traditional antagonist, or simply individuals such as friends, family members, sidekicks and other characters they encounter on their journey. These figures can provide obstacles, or even opportunities, for the protagonist to overcome.
Creating characters for a story should have a specific reason. They can be used to represent an idea, cause tension, help the story progress, or show the growth of the main character.
For example, in Giraffes Can’t DanceGiles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees created a cast of characters that mostly antagonize Gerald the Giraffe for his lack of dancing ability. However, it is a cricket who ultimately imparts the moral of the story; that anyone can dance, just to a different beat.
However, in The Big Adventures of a Little Tree: Tree Finds FriendshipTree does not have any antagonists, and instead has many side characters who are children that show him what it is like to be a friend. These children guide Tree in understanding how to create and maintain meaningful relationships.
5) Determine Your Point-of-View
Beginning readers often find third-person limited or omniscient to be the most effective point of view to employ, particularly if the protagonist is not a human being. This approach helps to foster babies’ and toddlers’ comprehension of the appropriateness of pronoun usage. By the age of two, most children only recognize the words “I” and “it,” so first-person point of view can be perplexing.
If your narrative centers around feelings, using first-person or third-person limited point of view can help older children to connect with the story.
Unlike most adult or young adult novels, some children’s books can use second-person POV. A great example is You Are My “I Love You”As a parent, I often talk to my child using “you” when I’m telling them a story. This is the same approach I take when narrating a story about a bear character; I use “you” as a way of addressing the bear and, in doing so, I also address my child who is listening.
When creating a children’s book, consider which point of view works best for the story. If it doesn’t seem to be working, don’t hesitate to rewrite from a different perspective.
6) Start In Medias Res
Books for children still have the same core components as any other story: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. However, because of the limited number of words and the short attention span of young readers, it’s essential to be concise and get to the point as quickly as possible.
This means that starting in medias res“In the middle of things” is an invaluable asset to authors of children’s literature. It can help them create engaging stories that capture the attention of their young audience.
Allocate a short amount of time to establish the context and background prior to introducing the main character and the issues they are facing. Generally, this should be done on the opening page of a picture book, or within the first three pages of a middle grade chapter book.
7) Consider Reading Skills
While all ages may love your story, writing children’s books requires a solid understanding of reading skills and readability scores.
When writing for a particular age group, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of readers in that group will be the intended audience. To ensure that young readers are able to comprehend the material, a readability score can be used.
Many readability assessments are derived from the standards of public education in the United States. These evaluations typically correspond to a specific grade level.
ProWritingAid can help make sure your writing is suitable for the intended audience. We mainly use the Flesch Reading Ease formula, which evaluates readability based on parameters such as length of the sentence and the amount of syllables per word. A higher number indicates that the text is easier to comprehend.
Aim to score between 90 and 100 on the Flesch Reading Ease scale when writing for young readers and 80 to 90 for older children.
The readability of your writing can be adversely affected by several factors, such as the use of higher-level vocabulary, jargon, and complex syntax. ProWritingAid can provide detailed advice on how to make your work easier to read.
8) Use Literary Devices
Incorporating literary techniques such as rhyme and alliteration can be entertaining, but more importantly, these devices can be beneficial for early readers in their educational journey.
Children can benefit from engaging in rhyming, alliteration, and assonance activities as these can help them to become phonemically aware. Phonemic awareness is the ability to comprehend the basic sounds of a language.
The use of rhythm in language has an effect on tone and meaning. It is an important part of teaching children language, which is why many children’s books use rhythmic prose to help kids learn this aspect of language.
You can also use other literary devices. Onomatopoeia (words that sound like their meanings) keeps young readers engaged.
Repetition also helps with reading comprehension. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That TypeThe books penned by Doreen Cronin, and their sequels, utilize the use of onomatopoeia in a repetitive manner to aid early readers in comprehending the narrative.
Images can be a powerful tool to engage young readers, particularly in picture books and chapter books. They can assist children in developing their descriptive skills while also immersing them in the story.
9) End on a Positive Note
It is essential for a children’s book to have a positive conclusion. The ending should be filled with joy and leave the reader with an uplifting feeling.
Many stories have a happy conclusion, but when writing about difficult topics one may ponder how to craft a children’s book with a positive outcome.
When considering the death of a grandparent, it can be a difficult topic to address. Rather than ending with a goodbye at the funeral, it is important to look for other ways to cope with the loss. Ideas may include finding comfort in memories, spending time with family, or finding a creative outlet.
Rather than depicting sadness, the protagonist may recall fond moments spent with their grandparent. The narrative can explore how to keep their memory alive, or how their grandparent will always remain in their heart.
10) Decide Your Publishing Route
Deciding whether to do independent publishing or traditional publishingThe selection of a topic for the children’s book you are writing will influence the further steps in the writing process.
If you opt to go the traditional publishing route, you must submit a query to literary agents with your story. Generally, the publishing house will pick the illustrator for you, which is likely someone from their staff, so you do not need to hire a professional. You can offer up your own illustrations, but the publisher may have a different plan.
When publishing independently, the author has full autonomy when it comes to decisions like book size and finding the right illustrator. It is strongly suggested that they speak to several experienced illustrators to learn more about their background, and to view their portfolios to ensure they are a good aesthetic fit.
The potential to earn a larger income is available through self-publishing, however the workload is much heavier. Promotion and sales must be done solely by the author. Additionally, many children’s book reviewers will not review self-published works.
If you pursue traditional publishing, you may have a better chance of having your book stocked in libraries and bookstores, and you may even receive an advance on your royalties. However, you may receive lower rates on your sales and be limited in the amount of creative control you have over your story.
It is up to you to decide which option is best for you, however, it is recommended to further investigate both options to make the most informed decision.
11) Edit Mercilessly
Editing a children’s book doesn’t just mean proofreadingRevising and improving your writing is essential to creating a good read. It requires several rounds of editing to make sure your story is the highest quality it can be.
Gather advice from other authors or experienced editors. Take note of the progression of your narrative. Are the occurrences within the story following a rational sequence? Do you have any unnecessary information that could be removed?
Consider if the content is engaging enough to keep a young reader interested. Pay attention to the number of words on each page and the total word count.
1) Read Lots of Children’s Books
It is said that the hallmark of a great writer is their ability to read. To become proficient in writing a children’s book, one should take time to read as many of them as possible.
Reading books geared towards kids can help you understand how to explain complex ideas in a way that is understandable to young readers. Instead of just reading stories that are comparable to your concept and your target demographic, consider exploring different writing styles to gain more insight.
Peruse a selection of children’s books. Give just as much consideration to new works of children’s literature as to classic tales, and try to incorporate a variety of authors into your reading.
Do not fret over the notion of taking someone else’s idea. All creative works are based on inspiration, and that applies to writing a children’s book as well. You will be able to create a new and distinct interpretation of your idea.
2) Make Friends with a Librarian
Gaining an overall view of the types of books for children can begin by visiting the children’s section of a library or bookstore. Exploring this section can be a great way to start.
You may wish to peruse books that are similar to your idea in some way. This could include books addressing similar topics or themes, or books that feature a similar narrative structure.
If you need assistance on a project, few people can help you more than a librarian. Ask the librarian for advice and suggestions instead of spending time researching yourself. Librarians are well-versed in children’s literature and can provide insight into which books are widely enjoyed by kids.
Many libraries employ a children’s librarian who is extremely knowledgeable in the area of child development and can provide information on suitable literature and its readability level.
Librarians can provide assistance with research if you are looking into a non-fiction topic, a work of historical fiction, or any other subject matter. They can guide you in your search for information.
3) Ask Kids What They Think
When you have a finished draft of your children’s book, the best way to get feedback is to find some kids to read it. If you do not have any children within the target age group, ask friends and family to help. Additionally, you can speak with teachers, librarians, or parents in your local area for their opinions.
Using visuals can keep children engaged and focused, so if you don’t have artistic talents, you can always find pictures online or use clip art to create visual aids.
Kids can be incredibly frank, so you should be prepared for some tough feedback. If you are writing for a younger audience who are not very verbal yet, determine if your tale is able to capture their interest.
There is no single formula for crafting a children’s book that can guarantee success, and the process of creating a board book is vastly different from writing a chapter book.
This template is a starting point for your planning. It’s guided brainstorming, and you’ll develop your story as you write and edit.
Somebody wanted but so then.
One way to construct a story is by following a formula. It can be used to plan out the plot, so why not give it a try?
Let’s break it down. Somebody is your protagonist. They want
But something stands in their way. This is the main conflict of your children’s book.
So your protagonist must do something to deal with the conflict. ThenThe outcome of the story depends on the characters’ decisions; whatever they decide will determine what happens next.
This template provides a more detailed look at how to create a story. It is important to note that the number of events included in a story may vary.
- Introduction: Who is your protagonist and what do they want?
- Conflict: Why can’t they get what they want?
- Obstacle 1
- Obstacle 2
- Obstacle 3
- Climax: How does your protagonist get what they want?
- Resolution: What have your characters learned?
You can take as much time as you need on each step when creating a board book using this guide. The minimum amount of pages you will have is seven.
To compose a successful children’s book, it is important to read extensively, ascertain the intended readership, introduce an identifiable protagonist, and include a meaningful lesson or moral.
Creating a story for children should be enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild and to make mistakes – it’s all part of the process!
Remember the days when you were captivated by tales of adventure and mystery? It’s time to revisit that feeling and reconnect with your inner child. Immerse yourself in stories that will spark your imagination and leave you feeling inspired.
Frequently asked questions
What age group can I target when writing children’s books?
When writing children’s books, you can target any age group from infancy to age 12. Depending on the age group you are writing for, the content of the book will vary.
What elements should I consider when writing a children’s book?
When writing a children’s book, you should consider the age group that you are writing for, and tailor the language, content, and illustrations accordingly. Additionally, you should maintain a consistent theme and plot throughout the book, making sure to include a satisfying resolution.
How can I get my children’s book published?
Once you have completed your children’s book, the next step is to submit it to a publisher. To do this, you can either send your book to an agent or publisher directly, enter a book contest, or submit your manuscript to a literary magazine.
Are there any tips for writing a children’s book?
When writing a children’s book, you should strive to write a story that is both enjoyable and educational. Additionally, you should use simple language that caters to the age group you are writing for. Clear and concise writing is important when writing for children.
What should I include in a children’s book?
In a children’s book, you should include an engaging plot, relatable characters, and illustrations that capture the imagination. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the book has a clear beginning, middle, and end.