Making your novel appeal to children.

As you may know children around the age of 7-13 don't enjoy reading. Many people would say to them you just haven't found the right book yet. But what if the right book isn't there? Writing books for children can be difficult for the simple reason your not a child.But we can all try to look through the eyes of a child.

Hafsa Shazuli
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What makes your book appeal to children?

 

Little is more.

You may of heard this saying before it applies to most genres of writing . But in children writing you need to make sure you nail this one.To some children the sheer size of a book can scare them away pages and pages of complicated words never go well in this genre.Look at Cressida Cowell for example she has big books but she makes them look interesting with illustrations and different fonts. I'm not saying to do this all the time but keep in mind that pages and pages of words can be quite daunting.For some children they prefer lots of writing. Make sure all your words are concise and if a sentence doesn't affect your writing get rid of it.No point having trillions of adverbs and adjectives without strong verbs and nouns. Make every word count.

Example: She slowly opened the door with her tired hands and went inside then went and sat in a chair .

She trudged inside and sat.

As you can see this incredibly shortens your sentence this is what you need.

 

Action first, description later.

If a child opens a book and the first pages are full of description they will probably drop it. Description slows done your story that not saying don't add description just embed it with your action and dialogue. Lots of description in a children's book can seem quite boring most children want to get on with it see what's so big that they have to spend half an hour reading about. Everyone has an imagination let them use it give them clues and ideas then leave it to them to create the rest. 

 

Simple but not too simple.

Children have a smaller vocabulary range than adults if they come across lots of confusing words they won't carry on reading. A few here and there are fine books are were they learn most of their vocabulary. But keep that in mind also don't start using plain, bland words because they are children. Keep your plot simple as well having a plot that twist and turns constantly to the point you don't know which characters is which will confuse most adults so think about how much it will confuse children. Again don't make your plot so straight forward otherwise you will end up with a short story or a very dragged out novel.

 

Are your characters children?

You could say this is an obvious question when writing a children's s book. But do your characters act or think like a child. Do they ask questions or become extremely energetic maybe they are a bit naive? Are they too child like? When reading some children's books you will find that they're characters seem to childish. In a child's point of view they aren't childish or naive. But they do make mistakes. They do ask questions alot. They are energetic. So if you were to write in first person for a children's book you have to think about how they feel how they see the world. Ask children questions about it or think back to when you were a child. If you look at Enid Blyton you can see how the children in her books feel really well they are childish but they aren't over the top. Children would want books they can see there selves in. 

 

Looking through the eyes of a child.

Children see the world differently so when writing your novel you have to think about it from a child's point of view. Children aren't going to understand politics or their families financial situations. They might not be  as confident as an adult or they could be even braver. Children have imagination let that come into play with your novel. Children often see the world orbiting them they can often be quite self centred. But not all. How does this affect their behaviour. They often don't know their place in the world yet so could that be a challenge they face? A lot of children are care free and optimistic could the children you write about turn from an innocent person to a sad, lonely child. 

 

A side note about humor. 

I don't usually like too much humour in a book but in some famous books such as David Walliams uses humour in a way to get children interested they often want some entertainment. Children often prefer books they can relate to so humour is a good way to do that. 

 

Another note I can't speak for all children as we are all different though I've talked to a lot of children about books.

This is my first ever blog so thank you for reading tell me what you think!

8 Comments

Kevinc

A very interesting blog. Well done! It’s difficult as an adult to relate back to childhood and this really helps those wanting a story to relate to a middle school (upper primary - lower secondary in UK) child.
Thank you for your time.

ps - review the punctuation and commonly confused words like your >>> you’re. It’s a good learning exercise, will enhance your writing and improve your grades.
Good luck with your writing career.

Dec-08 2020

Aryllia

I’d like to particularly highlight the last two points - “Are your characters children?” and “Looking through the eyes of a child”. These were probably my most important factors when I read books as a child and the most prominent reason why I disdained YA novels and instead read fantasy books that were written for adults.

The absolute worst crime a writer could commit against my child self was to play up the childishness of their child characters. It was thoroughly insulting, as if the author was crouching down to mock and belittle me with lisping baby speak.

The only books I can recall from the time that were written for my age bracket and didn’t treat me as a moron was the Harry Potter books, the first of which was published when I was 7. That series may have a thousand flaws and the author a thousand more, but they are among the few books I grew up with where the child characters felt like children in a way that didn’t insult my intellect as a child.

While our memories of childhood gets a bit fogged up with age, I think it is worthwhile to recall which books we loved most as children, read them again, and try to pin down and emulate the bits that worked on us back then. (while discarding the bits that didn’t age well enough)

Dec-12 2020

Sspringer

Thank you for sharing this. I’m currently editing something for children, so your advice is timely and very helpful.

Dec-14 2020

Brigidado

Hi,
Thank you for sharing this, I enjoyed reading it. I’m trying to write short stories for children and I will certainly take note of the things you have written in your blog. :slight_smile:

Dec-16 2020

Lmdewit

Children are different, for sure! I noticed you have this before I clicked on the link:

but it’s not in this page. That catch my eye since I was 7 when I discovered the love of reading in the form of the best comic of all times: Asterix. I also read lots of (original) fairy tales in those old big books with wonderful illustrations, National Geographic books about animals (yes I read them!) and other fun books and comics. I don’t think size daunted me and at one point, the bigger, the better was the book.
And both my kids also enjoyed reading at that age but then not every kid is like that, sadly.

Dec-16 2020

Kevinc

IMO: We are all different and reading develops at a different pace in us all but I disagree that children aged 7-13 do not like to read. In my experience, and I’ve taught in both primary and secondary schools, I think this is an age where many LOVE to read. The right story is needed and it needs to be told in a way that makes reading a pleasure not an ordeal for the average child in that age group. Generally avoid overly complex sentence structure and vocabulary but still add enough to add the odd challenge. The reader needs to relate to the story & characters. Overly complex language draws the child out of the story when they are learning concentration (a novel isn’t an educational text thought it provides reading practice).
The old masters: Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven, Adventure series, Capt W.E.Johns’ Biggles, Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings stories have a lot to teach aspiring children’s writers if they concentrate on the principles and brag the settings into the modern life they can relate to… After reading them I wanted adventure, joined the Air Training Corps at 13 and set my heart on a career as a pilot in the RAF (never made it as I couldn’t pass the eyesight test but I’ve had that adventurous life). Though these wound not appeal to children today, they kept us spellbound because they took us into an imaginary world we understood at the time. Take children into an adventure set in surroundings they can understand yet not hope to go themselves and you have them hooked. What you write can have a powerful influence on childrens’ ambitions so the children’s author has a duty to install the right values yet transport the child into another world and entertain. Children between 7-13 are at their most imaginative stage of development (proved by their acceptance of Hogwarts’ magical world).
Hope these ramblings make sense.
Kevinc

Jan-02 at 16:03

Aanya

I think children between the ages of 7-13 (like me) love to read! Yes, some don’t, but many do. It doesn’t matter what we read, or what age we are, but I strongly believe that reading is for everyone and that reading can be enjoyed by all, just try once, you’ll love it!

Sep-07 at 05:06

Aanya

Make your novel appeal to whom?

Sep-07 at 06:48
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