CS Lewis, well-known author of the Chronicles of Narnia series, is often quoted as saying: “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” What did he mean by this?
I took a course in children’s literature a few years ago and the debate among my classmates became quite heated around this point. Should writers write with children as their primary audience, or should they keep in mind who publishes and buys the books, and who often reads them to the child as well? Should children’s stories then appeal primarily to adults? If so, what makes them “children’s” stories?
I’ll leave that up to you, the writer, to decide for yourself. But in the meanwhile, here are three links (all from the same source today), that deal with the topic of writing for children that I found interesting and useful.
We start off with “Writing For Children – 12 Practical Tips To Get You Started” to get you thinking about your story and your audience before you start writing.
Like stories aimed at adults, children’s writing often include themes, albeit ones that specifically help them to understand and cope with problems that they experience in real life (or might one day experience, such as the loss of a grandparent, for example). In “10 Powerful Recurring Themes In Children’s Stories” the author discusses what themes are most applicable to children and how to incorporate them into your story. Obviously, the themes and how you handle them should adapt to the age group you’re writing for.
Finally, in “Everything You Need To Know About Creating Characters For Children’s Books” the author discusses seven types of characters prevalent in children’t literature and provides tips for creating believable characters.
I’ll end off with another quote from the inimitable CS Lewis: “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly.”
Do you write for children or enjoy reading children’s books? In your opinion, what are the most important things a writer should keep in mind when writing for a younger audience? What is your favourite children’s book?