Writing for children can be refreshing. Unlike stories aimed at an adult audience, the world inside a children’s book doesn’t always have to make “sense.” Animals can talk. Beds can fly you to different dimensions. A bear can be best friends with a little boy.
Many authors have taken breaks from writing for adults to dedicate children’s books to their own children or grandchildren.
Aldous Huxley wrote The Crows of Pearblossom as a Christmas gift for his niece in 1944.
Ian Fleming wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was adapted into a film in 1968, for his son.
Upton Sinclair wrote The Gnomobile for his grandchildren in 1936, which, like Fleming’s book, was also turned into a film–a musical by Disney.
These books weren’t necessarily characteristic of these authors. Fleming, for instance, was known for his James Bond series, and The Gnomobile was much more humorous and goofy than Sinclair’s usual work. But that’s where the refreshing part comes in. Writing a children’s book can be a, hopefully fun, escape from the sort of pieces you usually write.
But before running off to write your own book for children, there are some things to consider. Ask yourself: what kind of stories did I enjoy reading as a child? Do I want my story to have a message? What age group am I writing for? How much do I want to rely on pictures or illustrations? These questions will help you narrow the focus of your story. Before asking yourself them, however, the most basic place to start is by reading children’s books–lots of them.
Start by reading the books you remember from your own childhood. Read the classics. Read the stuff that has just hit the shelves. Read the books by Huxley, Fleming, and Sinclair listed above, or check out this list of 26 acclaimed authors who also wrote children’s books on Buzzfeed.com.
Personally, I plan on getting a hold of a copy of Margaret Atwood’s Up in the Tree. Are there any authors who you were surprised to see on Buzzfeed’s list?
– Melanie Figueroa