5 Basics for Writing Children’s Books

When people find out I’m a writer they often tell me they want to write a book. Nine out of ten times they have an idea for a child’s book but don’t know where to start. I usually give the same advice over and over, so here it is:


Don't try too hard

1. Don’t try to think up a story you think children will like, instead write the child’s version of what you know best. If you like to grow vegetables, take that passion and write about it so children can understand it.

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Write at age level

2. Write to the age level that you want to reach with your information. If you use a program like Microsoft Word, you can easily check the readability statistics to see what grade level you are writing to. You can easily determine if you need to take it up or down to meet that age group’s reading level.

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Use short sentences

3. As a general rule, the younger the child, the shorter the sentences. The same is true for the number of sentences per page. One sentence per page is fine for a pre-K book but is too few for a 5th grader’s book. A simple rule of thumb is to add one sentence per page for each grade level, so a 5th grade book would have six sentences per page. Remember that the sentence length will increase too with each grade level.

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Illustrate it

4. Illustrations are important in a child’s book. As a writer, it pains me to say this but illustrations are more important than words for books directed at children under the age of seven. Children’s stories are more visually driven than story driven. Take the time to illustrate your book.

Take your time

5. It will always take longer to get the book done than you plan. A 20-page book seems like it could be knocked out in an afternoon except you’ll find it hard to keep the sentence and word count down without compromising your story. Say what you have to say in a few words but choose words that sound good read out loud.

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That’s a quick overview. Obviously it’s more involved than that but if I told you everything step by step it would kill your creativity. The most important thing in writing is to just start.

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