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The Best Books on Writing for Children

Updated on January 10, 2015

Need a few books on writing for children?

Does your inner writer want to write a children's book? Probably. The sheer number of folks who want to write a book for kids is pretty staggering--especially if you are one who is serious about learning to write for kids. The competition for agents, publishers and readers is intense. This is not a kid's game by any means.

SCBIW (The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators) has more than 22,000 members worldwide. They have 70 regional chapters. It is "the largest children's writing organization in the world." These folks are seriously writing books that range from board books to YA novels. Now, you can easily double and triple that and you may have some idea of how many people want to write a book for children and are making some attempt toward achieving their goal. If you still want to flirt with your inner writer and write a children's book, here are a few books that might help you find your way.

Writing for Kids

Writers who want to learn how to write for children and for teens will find a lot of solid information within these pages. The author, Cynthea Liu, has published books for a variety of ages so she is able to give the reader a first-hand look at what the world of writing for children is all about--and it's not a game. Writing for children is not a way for a writer to take the easy way out. Oh, it's for kids, it's short, what's to worry? Well, there's a lot to worry about because kids are unforgiving readers and publishing a children's book is not a simple matter.

Liu offers a primer on the writing, the craft, the publshing, and the marketing of books aimed at children and teens. Want to know what paper to use? Read about it. Curious as to what a query letter is? Check the index. What's it mean if you get a rejection letter? Read her stories. This is a good start for anyone wanting to get a realistic idea of what it's like to be a children's writer.

Cynthea Liu is living the dream of many wannabe writers. She's traded in her corporate dress for the writer's casual get-up and continues to write and publish in her chosen field of children's literature.

Writing for Middle Grade

I love this book. I remember the day I found it on the bookshelves at the local bookstore and eagerly skimmed its pages. You can find plenty of books written with a general overview of writing for children. You can find books targeted to writing the picture book. Boatloads. How to write teen or young adult novels are easily discovered on bookstore shelves. But middle grade? Not so much.

At the time I was studying middle grade fiction and trying my hand at writing my own. Every age group has its own demands as a readership and your obligations as a writer change. Understanding what a middle grade child is wanting in the way of story is important. As Morris says, "...above all, having a lively story to tell and an active central character to help tell it."

Morris shows you the road to story and gives you tips, suggestions, and exercises to help you along your way. Once you have that first draft, she helps you craft, shape and revise your story. Got a story for an 8-12 year old? You might want to get this book.

Writing Stories for Chlidren

Do you want to get at the heart of storytelling? Nancy Lamb's book on how to write for children may be the answer. The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children is a highly acclaimed book that attacks those bugaboos of plotting, point of view, structure, pacing and other decision-point elements that go into the mix that creates a good story.

Nancy Lamb provides a comprehensive approach that includes examples, worksheets and checklists. Structure is vital in a book aimed for kids. You have to keep everything moving forward yet include all the information needed to make the story plausible, convincing and real. This how-to book is good for new writers as well as those with more experience. Even if you think you know it all, it doesn't hurt to run your story by the checklists and questions. You never know what might be exposed or even triggered. It certainly won't hurt.

Pause for a Question: Want to Write for Children? - Name your children's book genre

Writing for children is a broad term when it comes to types of stories. There are picture books, middle grade novels, chapter books, poetry books, tween novels, teen novels, and books for young adults. Fiction and nonfiction. Where's your pleasure when it comes to stories? Answer, then continue reading....

What kind of book for children do you want to write?

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Write Children's Books

What does it mean to be a children's author? What does it take to make that dream a reality? What skill-set do you need? You Can Write Children's Books This is an updated, revised edition that includes new resources and updates made necessary by changes in the children's book publishing industry. Waht's the difference between "traditional" and "online" publishing? What's print on demand? How do I get the word out about my book in this new online world? All these things are now covered.

With more than 35 books published, Tracey Dils is an accomplished award-winning children's book writer. She works in a variety of genres and age groups. Her book is among the top-selling books from Writer's Digest, the publisher of this book. Within the covers of this book, Tracey Dils discusses writing for children from the idea generation stage to the publishing and through marketing and promotion. Exercises are included and a good description of the various genres and their readership helps the writer find his or her way through the maze of children's publishing.

While most writers who write for children do not do the illustrations, there are illustrators who also write their stories. Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children's books is aimed at the illustrator who wants to write a picture book but it's useful for the writer who will only deal with the text, too. Alone among the genres, picture books are often also looked at as an art form. The combination of text and drawings on the page to tell the story takes a strong gift for storytelling and an ability to create a dynamic storytelling between the two. Using his own work as models, Uri Shulevitz explains the craft of picture books.

It takes a particular mindset to create a good picture book. If you truly want to learn how to write one, make sure you add this book to your reference shelf.

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