Thursday, July 1, 2010

Writing For Children? Try Thinking Like a Child

One of the advantages in writing for children is that I get to think like a child. How do children think? If you have to ask that question, you might want to spend more time with children before attempting to write for them. One of the privileges of being a teacher, a mother, and now a grandmother has been experiencing firsthand the magical world called "childhood."

Relative to the world of children's books, here are some of my unscientific observations about how children think:

Children are enthusiastic. They are eager to know what is coming next in a story.

Children are creative. Ask them what they think will come next in a story, and enjoy their answers!

Children love pictures. They thrive on visual stimulation and they love bright, colorful illustrations. Try this: Tell a child about a dog riding a bike, then show them the picture. You will see a huge difference in their reactions.

Children love sensory descriptions. It's not enough to say, "The toy was soft." Children have a better understanding of descriptions such as “soft as a puppy” or “loud as a whistle”.

Children love happy endings. I don’t think there is ever a reason to have a children’s book with a sad ending. Let childhood be a time of optimism and fun.

A Children’s Story Doesn’t Need to Be Realistic. Children have no trouble at all believing that chickens can talk or rabbits wear clothes. In fact, it's much more fun to believe in make-believe.

Children love rhyming words. They also love the patterns of words that are repeated, such as "Fly,fly fly in the sky, sky, sky."

So, that's my short list of what it's like to think like a child. If you would like to write for youngsters, find a group of kids, sit on the floor, talk to them and, above all, listen!

Bobbie Hinman

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