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.