- What are the different children’s book formats?
- How do I start writing a children’s book?
Children are one of literature’s most loved and lasting audiences. While adult reading is shifting more and more towards short articles on websites and social media platforms, the readership among children have been rising steadily. Children’s authors have access to a huge variety of topics as well as a sizable audience. The same genres that adults like reading—from fantasy to mystery to comedy—are frequently intriguing to kids. As a result, a lot of prospective writers decide to write children’s novels as their debut works.
What are the different children’s book formats?
Different age groups determine the organisation pattern of children’s books.
1. Picture books: These books are often for youngsters between the ages of a few months and four. A picture book’s word count will rise as the target audience’s age does. Baby books often contain little more than 300 words. Pre-schoolers may even be able to perform some basic independent reading and can manage upwards of 1,000 words.
2. Early reader books: Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are the initial years of elementary education when early readers between the ages of 5 and 7 are taught to read alone. These books are sometimes referred to as children’s storybooks and frequently contain a good number of colourful illustrations. These books can have anywhere from 1,000 and 5,000 words in them.
3. Chapter books: Chapter books are, as their name implies, divided into chapters and geared toward kids between the ages of 6 and 9. They typically have a word limit of roughly 10,000 and gradually incorporate more difficult words.
4. Middle-grade books: Books for those between the ages of 9 and 12 are a step up from chapter books and typically include a more difficult vocabulary, fewer images, and over 60,000 words. At this age, kids can enjoy humour, intrigue, and even little thrills.
5. Young adult literature: YA literature is written for older kids and even adults. Teenage protagonists predominate, although there are also lots of older characters. Here, the range of genres increases to include science fiction and fantasy and often has more than 100,000 words.
How do I start writing a children’s book?
Here are a few things to think about before penning your own children’s book:
Search for your best idea
You most likely already have an idea, but you should focus on polishing it. This is how:
- Search for “children’s book” and your base concept in Google.
- Once you’ve located books that are comparable, have a look at their summaries.
- Determine how your book differs from those that have already been released.
Even while it might seem obvious to do so before investing all of your time and effort on a book, a surprising number of authors fail to do so. To get a taste of competing books, you can conduct this simple study in only two minutes. Even if your topic is fairly common it’s proof that children want to read about that topic!
The secret is to give your story one unique twist that sets it apart. If the story involves a dog, make yours a cat which is a stray or blinded in on-eye. Your story may be unique because it has a surprise at the conclusion, is intended for an older or younger audience, or your main character is guided on their journey by a gnome. Just give it one twist to set it apart from other books.
Make your main character unique
Unique characters can be found in the best books. They have several peculiar qualities and quirky routine. But you also want a main character who feels REAL, not one who acts as a proxy for all children. Use the following Character Questionnaire to develop yours –
- What is the major desire of your character?
- Best/worst habits?
- Extroverted or introverted?
- How is their language different from everyone else’s? (cute sayings, repeated term or phrase, dialect)
- Do they feel self-doubt or are they being overly brave?
- Do they own any animals? (Or, do the main animal character in your story have human owners?)
- What brings happiness to your character?
- Have they any hidden agendas?
- What actions that are wildly inconsistent with this character would they take?
- What is one thing that most people despise that this character loves?
Use appropriate length
What word count is ideal for your book? This is one of the most asked questions and the one that most writers get incorrect. You need to choose the age range for which you are writing, and then stick to that word limit.
Check out the children’s book format at the beginning of this article to know the correct length of book for your targeted age group.
Be quick to grab the children’s attention
Children have a short attention span which is further hampered by today’s technological distractions. Many unpublished children’s books start out too slowly, which makes it difficult for them to capture the child’s (and the parent’s!) interest.
If a child is going on an adventure in your story, they should do it on the first or second page. Give no background information regarding this child’s life. Don’t describe the setting or the time of year. A child is not reading your book as a classic. Avoid writing at a turtle pace because the pacing of successful children’s stories typically progresses quickly.
Identify the primary problem
Problems, crises or the plain old whodunnit should be the central focus of your main character. If there is no problem to solve, your character falls flat and there is no story to write. The primary problem might be a mystery, a specific individual, or a confidence issue. The majority of the book will focus on challenges the protagonist must overcome before finding a solution to their issue. The main character will battle that issue throughout the entire book to present themselves as the hero. And children love a hero.
But do remember –
- The problem should never be too easily solved by your character.
- Break up your problem into a series of obstacles.
- The character should not be laid-back about the problem.
Children repeat what they see, hear and feel. Repetition should be a part of your game plan. You can use the following three repetition techniques while writing a children’s book –
- Word or phrase repetition on a page
- Word or phrase that appears repeatedly throughout the entire book
- Repeating the narrative framework
Any book that rhymes uses the repetition of similar words. The repetition of the narrative framework is even more significant than repetition of the vocabulary.
Take the example of Dr. Seuss, who is essentially the father of children’s literature. His whole body of work is based on repetition.
Illustrations are important
You cannot have a children’s book that is not visually appealing. And good illustrations are what makes children’s books highly successful. But you need to set your story in such a way that it makes itself credible for good interesting illustrations.
If your story has two characters stuck in a room, the illustrations won’t be visually appealing. Instead put them in a museum or a train station or anywhere outside – a place that is teeming with life which the illustrator can use. Writing about a one-eyed dog? How about a one-eyed tiger?
Illustrations that are bright, cheery and help to foster the child’s imagination are crucial for the success of a children’s book.
Choosing a title
Your book’s title is its most effective marketing strategy. The majority of readers base their decision to buy your book only on its title. Therefore, picking a title could be the most crucial step you take (along with a good illustrator).
Things to remember while choosing a title for a children’s book –
- Do not use a descriptive title
- Do use an action-based title with a hint of mystery
- Do Google your title to see if it already exists. (You do not want to be accused of plagiarism)
- Test out the reception of your title among known family and acquaintances.
Anyone can sit down and dash out a children’s book, and with a little help and guidance, yours can be good enough to earn the attention of thousands of children. And nothing beats the feeling of holding your printed book in your hands and reading it to a child for the first time. Follow our guidelines to know how to write a children’s book. And if you feel stuck, we are just a call away.