Writing for Children

On May 1, 2013, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

typewriter keys

It’s been quiet in these parts because I’ve been working on my picture books. Yes, there are two, and I’ve been trying to get one of them polished and shiny enough to send to an agent, who requested some revisions. There aren’t many second chances when it comes to literary agents. That means I better impress her or go home.

Writing for children is not as easy. It has taken me two years to get to this point. I think I’m close. Very close. I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on, and I’m always thinking about my books, their characters, and how to turn a phrase. I’ve also been thinking about some testers. Published authors often urge aspiring writers to listen to children for dialogue and to read to them for their reactions. I just so happen to have a kindergartner, and her teacher allowed me to read my work to her students.

The first book tells the story of a little girl who discovers her color. The 5-year-olds didn’t like that one much. They told me they saw the pictures and asked a few questions, but they didn’t seem all that enthusiastic about it. Maybe it was too quiet. Children love to interact with books these days. Many of those popular today are far from quiet.

The second book is about a 5-year-old who uses every tactic in the book to delay going to school. It weighs in at about 100 words and uses the same phrase several times. The children giggled in the right places and told me the manuscript is funny. For that book, I got the highest compliment. “Read it again!” And I read it one more time.

What’s interesting to me is that the book I’ve got my heart set on, the one I’ve been working on for two years fell flat. The book I wrote in a half hour got all the praise. Maybe the lesson here is that I’m trying too hard or simply need to inject some fun into the other book. I’ll soon find out and hope to share good news soon.

 
  • Crystal Spraggins

    Monique, I’ve missed your blog and am catching up! Yes, sometimes it’s hard to predict what people (even kid people) will appreciate isn’t it? There are posts that I’ve written that I think are these little, gorgeous gems–and I can’t get three people to read them! Then I write something that I think is good, but I’m not terribly attached, and a bunch of people comment. Go figure. Good luck with the books, and of course I’ll keep an eye out!

  • Melissa

    Having read to varied groups of kindergartners for three consecutive years now, I can tell you they can, indeed, be tough customers when it comes to giving a book a thumbs up or down. If you have them asking you to read one of your books again, I think you’ve got a winner. Kids like a certain amount of repetition because it gives them a chance to tell you what’s coming next, to interact as you mentioned. That way they get to participate even if they’re unable to read the words. Kids are smarter than they’re often given credit for. If they liked your book, I’d take that as a great compliment!

    • Honeysmoke

      Thank you. And yes, kids are super smart.

  • Nikki {AsianBlackCo}

    Keep pushing forward with your book. Look forward to reading them

    • Honeysmoke

      Thanks. I appreciate it.