Many people think that writing for children is easier than writing for adults; anyone can do it!
It’s true that children’s books are shorter and less complex than books for adults. But it’s a mistake to think of them as a “soft option.”
“Don’t write for children unless you must!” says children’s author Joan Aiken. “You should enter this field only because you have a strong urge to tell the kind of story which you think children will enjoy; preferably, because there is some particular story which is clamoring to be let out of your mind.”
So why do you want to write for children? And why do I think it is something that writers should seriously consider?
Here are some reasons to think about:
● God has given us the responsibility of caring for children and teaching them about him. Jesus loved children and paid attention to them.
● You have a real love and heart-concern for children.
● You want to extend children’s horizons, feed their imagination and help them grow in understanding. Children are open- minded, ready and willing to explore, grow, be stretched. Everything around them, material and spiritual, is exciting and full of possibilities.
● You have something important to share. The best writers retain their sense of childhood. They have kept a kind of awe, curiosity, and innocence. In their writing they explore who they were, are, might be. They step back, in a sense, to that time or that part of them when all things were possible, or where they need to re-explore and struggle with particular issues and ideas. Maybe your own childhood experiences are still fresh in your mind.
● You want to entertain children and amuse them.
● You would like to give them security, with a clear framework of right and wrong.
● You want to write a children’s story because that is the best possible vehicle for what you have to say.
We need to be clear about our motives. A children’s writer has a special responsibility. Only a limited number of books can be read in childhood—yours may be the first. If it’s a good experience, it will lead to many more.
Children are important. They are the future. We can reshape our society through what we teach children and the way we influence them. The task is urgent.
This article was excerpted from MAI’s booklet, Effective Story Writing for Children, by Pat Alexander and Larry Brook. The booklet offers several practical tips for mastering the important craft of children’s writing. Check out resources on writing and publishing on MAI’s website.
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