Writing for Children

There’s something that happens when a child picks up a book. Whether they toddle over to a parent and plop on their lap or sneak pages under their sheets in the glow of a flashlight, when a child reads, magic happens.

I don’t say this to sound prosaic or poetic; I truly believe it. I’ve believed it since my first encounters with the power and magic of reading. Once I held the key of reading, I would gobble up any and every story I could. I’ve looked for a button with Corduroy and eaten for a week with the very Hungry Caterpillar. I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day with Alexander. I’ve traveled to Narnia, Hogwarts, and across the world. I’ve ridden on tiny toy motorcycles with a mouse named Ralph. I’ve shrunk down to no bigger than a thumb and been whisked away to foreign lands. I’ve hung out with the Babysitter’s Club and been terrified by R. L. Stine.

These stories have stuck with me as I’ve grown and given me experiences that, had I not read them, I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Because when you read as a child, it helps mold you into the person you will become.

Writers tell stories. The adequate ones are often good marketers, the good ones are great story tellers and good marketers. The great ones are magic.

I dare you to read Dr. Seuss and not marvel at his magic of language and rhythm. Or read Beatrix Potter or A. A. Milne and wonder at how they capture the moments of childhood, fun or heartbreaking, with a sweet simplicity. Writers like C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling created entire worlds that we wanted to dwell in, and we were devastated when we had to leave.

Children are often the harshest critics. They see through pretense, and they dislike being talked down to. They can spot a superficial moral from a mile away. But children are also the most forgiving of critics; respect them, delight them, and they’ll hold a place for you in their heart forever.

Give them something they love, and they will read it over and over again. Ask any parent who has had to read the same story multiple times in one night; if they love something, they are loyal to it. The story will become such a deep part of them it will feel like coming home every time they pick up that story.

It’s not easy, and anyone who tells you it is, has never tried to write for children. Can you write a story with nothing but a few words? Can you capture the experience of a child and be empathetic? Can you acknowledge their point of view without making it a “teachable moment”?

Why write for children? Because adults are boring. Because the stories are fun. Because children deserve to read fantastic tales.

But honestly? Because I’m chasing that magic. I hope to capture it someday.

-Cathryn

8 thoughts on “Writing for Children

  1. Nicole says:

    I love this! I have such good memories of the adventures I’ve been on in books as a kid. I honestly remember way more books that I read as a child then as an adult because the stories really took me in! I can’t wait to read books with my kids when they are a little older I remember my mom always reading chapter books to us as kids and it was so fun to be a part of the adventure together with my siblings! No doubt your stories will be in our collection Cate!

    Liked by 1 person

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