This morning, as I began writing this post, I hopped over to Elizabeth Steven Olmor’s fabulous blog Banana Peelin’: The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Children’s Writer. I wanted to check on the spelling of the name of last week’s contributor, Ame Dyckman- a children’s author who I wanted to quote. You can read her hilarious and informative post here.
Well, to my delight, as the page opened up,this is what I saw:
Now, how is that for serendipity?
Ame Dyckman talked about her beginnings as a children’s book author, and how at SCBWI conferences she kept hearing that, “if you want to write picture books, you have to read them.”
She realized that reading books to her child was not enough. What she really needed to do was read them to herself. And so she went to her library and took out fifty books at a time, read them and got fifty more and then more and more…
That is exactly how I got started – exhausting the children’s sections of all my local libraries and book stores, studying each book. Through this immersion I learned how specialized and how challenging writing for children really is.
New parents, inspired by their children, and surrounded by picture books often have ideas for books. But having an idea is one thing; turning it into a good story is another. We have all seen the influx of celebrity picture books- most of which are (yes, I’ll say it) horrendous. Reading to your children is not enough. Being inspired by your children is not enough. It takes homework and hard work to create a winning story.
From what I have learned, and in my opinion, here are some characteristics of good children’s books:
Concise, with each word carefully chosen.
Great use of rhyme
Great use of repetition
Have I missed any? I’d love to hear your thoughts
I will go into further detail with examples in future posts.
In the meantime, keep reading picture books to your child/children- but also read them for yourself!