Age-specific writing: toddlers/pre-K

As I continue on with my children’s book writing course, we’re moving on from the basics of writing, and going into more depth on specific age groups, rehashing and looking more closely at ideas already mentioned in the course. Module seven focused on children younger than 7 years old.

These books are mostly picture books and some basic illustrated chapter books, and as the course authors discussed before, language is the key to this age group. It is important to understand how children at this age are reading, what their process is, and challenge them in ways that allow them to still be successful in reading. Illustrations play a large role in these books, and while most writers don’t do their own illustrations, as the course authors point out, it is important to be able to visualize in general what your pictures will look like, as it helps the writing process.

Children might be encouraged to guess what comes next based on pictures, or pictures can be used as an element to help build suspense, allowing one page to end with a cliffhanger sentence and the next page reveal the outcome immediately through a picture.

Other topics mentioned in this module were political correctness and diversity of characters, using animals and even objects as characters, and keeping in mind that your story will, ideally, be competing on a global field, and to write accordingly.

While this module was interesting, I didn’t find it particularly enlightening or groundbreaking, perhaps because I’m not working on any picture books right now. It felt like a collection of tips to keep in mind when writing for very young children (though, I must confess, much of the course feels like a collection of tips. I suppose because it’s online, there is only so much one can do to make it interactive.). While I’m not writing this module off, it’s certainly not at the forefront of my mind right now. But, it may come in handy some day, if I ever decide to develop a certain picture book idea I’ve had bouncing around in my head.

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