What You Can Write for Children
"I can't write a book, but I want to write for children. What else is there?" This is a question I often get, and one that perhaps you ask yourself.
Basically, there are two main categories in writing - (1) Fiction (based on made-up characters in a real-world setting) and (2) Non-fiction - based on real people, places and events.
With both categories, there are many genres, including Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Ghost Stories, Action/Adventure, History, Biography, Animals, Nature, Educational/Learning, Religion and Diversity, Girl-oriented Series Books, and Licensed Character Series
Any of these genres can be formatted in numerous ways, ranging from board books for the youngest reader, through picture books, early readers, and books with lots of words, such as chapter books, middle-grade books, and novels. Depending on the format, word counts will vary from 50 words to 70,000. Obviously, the complexity of the story, with characters and action, will also vary.
But all of the above fall under the realm of writing books. You're interested in other types of writing for children, so here goes:
- SCRIPTS for plays of readers theatre - If you enjoy conversations, and can create dialogue between characters, scripting is the way to go. To get started, try taking a known fable or folk tale and create dialogue to go with the story. Write-in narrators to help bridge gaps and scene changes.
- POEMS/RHYMES/FINGER PLAY - Short poems for young children, or longer ones for older children are not too difficult to create. Poetry can have rhyming words in couplets or every other line, or no rhyming words at all. For finger play, think in terms of action and movement to go with the words. The important thing in writing poetry is the meter and flow of the words.
- MAGAZINE MARKET - Children's magazines are always looking for material for their issues that are usually published 12 times a year! Depending upon the magazine, word counts vary, so be sure to go online to find their submission guidelines. Magazines seek articles, short stories, legends, myths, folk tales, plays, games, rhymes/poems/finger play, crafts, recipes, and educational material. And there are rebuses, quizzes, as well as fillers (jokes, riddles, knock knocks). It's a wide field with many opportunities.
- EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL - Teaching units that teachers can use in the classroom, non-fictional information, instructional teaching methods and classroom management suggestions. There are several educational markets listed in the Writer's Market Book.
- OTHER AREAS - Have you thought about creating greeting card messages? Or commercial scripts for radio/TV/DVDs? What about activity or coloring books? Or novelty books with pop-ups and sliding windows? If you enjoy traveling write about some of the places you've visited for magazines (children enjoy learning about new and different places). Local and regional newspapers frequently print articles pertaining to children - their adventures, interests, activities, recipes, and short stories. See what your newspaper might be interested in.
Whatever realm you choose to target for your writing for children, know what kids like and don't like, and go after the former. Your writing should be interesting - not boring - so children (and adults) will enjoy reading it.
Finally, when you've determined what you wish to write and what market you are targeting, research that market to know what the guidelines are, and whether or not they'll accept your submission. It's a good idea to do your preliminary research first, so your work and efforts won't be in vain!
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