Things I Learned: Writing Children’s Books

Recently, I wrote a post with a quick list of “Things I Learned” for writing devotions. Today, I’m going to share some thoughts about writing children’s books.

  1. It’s harder than it looks. You’ve probably heard that short stories are more difficult than novels because every word counts. In many ways, children’s books are short stories. They’re a complete package with plot, setting, and character development. And every word matters.
  2. You need to know your audience. Okay, if you’ve been reading this blog for long, you’ll know that I care very much about audience. Do you know your audience? What age are you trying to reach? What do children that age love? hate? fear? think? If you don’t know, you’d better figure it out before you write to them.
  3. Respect is key. My daughter has a keen radar when it comes to disrespect for kids. She’s not the only one, of course. If you expect kids to want to read your words, you’d better make sure you see their worth as readers in their own right. This is true for anyone, of course, but it seems all too easy for adults to be condescending toward their younger readers.
  4. Silliness is an art. You know this. What makes a joke funny? When is a sitcom good? Too much nonsense gets old fast, and misplaced humor falls flat. Kids love humor as much as any of us (and maybe more so), but balance is important.
  5. When teaching the truth, tread carefully. Most of the children’s books I’ve written are about Bible accounts. What happens when you mix truth with fiction? If a reader knows you’re writing historical fiction, that’s one thing. But if you’re writing on matters of faith, it can be dangerous to write fake with fact. Which is which? Far too many of us think that Mary rode a donkey and met a drummer boy and three monarchs from Asia while Jesus slept silently in the snow. For example. I’m not saying Christian fiction is impossible—far from it. But especially if you’re conveying a truth that someone might be reading about for the first time, love your readers enough to give them the truth.

That was fun! Thanks for letting me share. Makes me want to write another children’s book.