Where to start
For many people, their love of books and reading can be traced back to the stories they read as a child. Whether it was the adventures of ‘Just William’, the mysteries of the ‘Famous Five’ or recent additions such as the work of David Walliams, there is something special in the relationship between children and stories they feel have been crafted for them.
The term “children’s book” is more diverse than you would think. Like adults, children are into a wide variety of things such as fantasy, mystery, action thriller and comic style books all available for children.
What to think about
In order to get a children’s book published, ideally you want to be sure that before you take it to a publisher that it works for children. The first place to start is if you know or have children of your own – this is a great way to test whether it works in terms of their level of enjoyment.
There are more factors to consider when writing a children’s book. The first is to consider what ages you are writing for, as this will affect the kind of language you use and the style of narrative. If it’s for toddlers just learning to read then it needs to be very simple, whereas for older readers the plot can be more complex.
With younger children, the rhythm of a book can make a difference. Ideally you don’t want too many words and a rhyme can help make it feel engaging. With older readers, it can be harder but it is possible to find ways to make it talk to them without having it feel like you are trying too hard to “get” them. As with any other story, you can think about what you were into when you were young and what made you like those particular stories. It also helps to do a little research into current media for children such as animation, video game, films and so forth as that will help create a language for it.
This also affects the kind of characters you choose – do some of research on the kind of things kids of that age are interested in as that will make it easier to determine what you can work with. Ideally, you also want something that can tie in with personal experiences as children also tend to know if a story feels like it’s been too obviously crafted with them in mind (as personified in the “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme).
It is also important to remember that children’s books are not “easier” than any other form of narrative. For example for smaller children crafting rhymes with a rhythm that fits and makes sense can often be more challenging than you think.
Another factor is younger readers often favour complete stories as opposed to cliff hangers or ambiguous endings. Even with a series, children tend to want each part to feel complete.