Anyone here write children's books?
I don’t normally come down here to the general chat, and this isn’t something I’d immediately think of bringing to the Episode forums, but we’re all writers and readers here, and I have a specific topic to discuss: Children’s books.
I was hoping I could pick some people’s brains about writing kid’s books. Obviously, the way adult novels are written and children’s books are written are two very different beasts, and while I’m pretty comfortable with the former, I have zero experience in the latter.
I’ve previously written my best friend a novel for her birthday, and now I’ve found out my sister’s pregnant, I wanted to write a book that would be a bit personal to her and my brother-IL. I’d like it to be something they could read to the wee kiddo when it’s too young to know what words are, but something it could read itself when it knows it’s ABCs.
That’s a pretty wide range, I know, and the reading ability of a kid just figuring out what words are compared to a 3 or 4 year old is a big difference. To be honest, when it’s a baby does it even know or care what the stories are as long as the voice reading them is soothing or entertaining? …Not a clue.
Is there anyone on these forums who has experience with writing children’s stories? Or anyone who has kids of their own or young neices/nephews etc., and know what stories are fun for both the child and adult to read? Are there any suggestions or advice to be given? Should I have a lot of onomatopoeia? Including lots of bright, bold pictures is already on my to-do list, though is there a preferred ratio of images? Dotted around the page? Colourful borders? On each two-page spread should I have one dedicated for images and one for text?
I’m fairly sure I’m going to self-publish it with Lulu - they have gloss-covered casewrapped books so any baby spittle or barf can be wiped clean, and the gloss covers tends to bring out the bright cover colours fairly well.
Writing-wise, literally anything you can suggest or throw at me would be helpful. I keep Googling things like “reading ages of children” and “how many words should a children’s book be?” and the more I Google the more I confuse myself.
My best advice is to go to the children’s section of the bookstore and read a bunch of stuff and see what you like. Standard picture book length is 32 pages. You need to make a lot of decisions about what sort of book you want because there is a range in children’s books as well. If you want infant/ early development lots of contrast and black and white is good. Bold shapes. A simple story with repetition and a positive story or idea. There are books that teach, that entertain, that just sound nice. And there are stories they grow into and get attached to over time. Think about your favorites as a kid too. I have written some Children’s books but I haven’t published any yet.
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Like, picture books? Chapter books? I'm working on a trilogy of mid-grade novels right now. SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) has a lot of good resources.