Sunday, August 14, 2011


Have you ever heard a piece of music, smelled something and all of a sudden a feeling washed over you, bringing back a happy or sad memory? Great children’s books will do the same thing. They will take your heart and mind to back to the memory of days gone by.

If you consider books to be only teaching tools, remember the warm glow that special book brought you. Think about it, can you feel the joy, sadness, warmth, and yes even the smell of the place you were in, when first you heard or read that special book?

What was that book, was it one of the classics like, Little Women, The Cat in the Hat, Charlotte’s Web,Treasure Island or another book? When writing for a child, you should remember the world that they see and hear. Find within yourself the beauty and wonder of life as it unfolded around you when you were young. The book will hopefully take even an adult back to the silly, clever, imaginative or wondrous world that still lies within them.

Take Dr. Seuss’, The Cat in the Hat, many of us remember it being read to us as a child. Our eyes lit up and we giggled as the clever rhymes told a wondrous story. If we picked it up again today, to read to a child or just for our own enjoyment, maybe it would help us to once again find the spirit of the child within us, waiting to be let out.

Remember the sweet sad, touching story of Wilbur the pig being saved from slaughter by a spider named Charlotte? Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White is considered a true classic in children’s literature, yet it is written from the point of view of a pig and a spider.

So what makes a great children’s book? It is a story that holds the heart, mind and spirit of a child within its pages. It is a book that can be picked up years later by an adult and they will again be swept up into the story all over again. Maybe like The Cat in the Hat, the adult will find themself once again chuckling, reliving their own youthful innocence.

Charlotte’s Web, might once again make you cry, feel the pain, loneliness and simplicity of life, nature and the love that fellow creatures can have for one another.

Perhaps you will feel the adventure again that you found in Treasure Island, and remember the days when you played pirates.

Little Women, might bring you back to a kinder, gentler world. A world that is forgiving, even in the face of darkness and pain.

No matter the age of the person, a great children’s book will delight both the child and the adult. It will sweep all the world’s problems away and take you into the land where you will once again live the glorious days of your own youth and innocence.

Whichever book you remember most clearly the message remains the same. The story, prose or verse must capture the essence of the heart of the child. It must see the world through their eyes, if it is to be a book that is to be picked up generation upon generation.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


So much of writing for a child is in the remembering to think like a child. The most popular children’s books today are told from the perspective of the child.

Why is the Harry Potter series such a success? Is it because there is magic, witches, goblins and strange magical beasts, potions that make you shrink, brooms to fly. Yes this is some of it, for we would all like to believe we can become more, that magic can fill our lives.

But the other and more important part is that the books do not talk down to children. They aren’t adults giving another lesson clothed in magic. They are about learning to fight the good fight. They are about being responsible for ones actions and the difficulties of growing up.

They teach lessons of how “cliques” and bullying can hurt. They teach the truth that there is worth in every child and that more lies below the surface then can be seen in who someone hangs out with or whether or not they are popular. They teach it is okay to be different and not okay to be cruel, greedy or power hungry.

Yet these stories are told clothed in a way the child can accept, they are told from the way a child thinks and feels. So often in writing a child’s book, what leaves the child cold is the author is thinking like an adult and not like a child. As a result the book or story comes across as just another adult lesson, one that just proves once again that adults don’t understand.