30 Tips for Writing Delightful Children’s Books

WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS TIP #1: WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW –

Ernest Hemingway

This could mean, write about the things you’ve seen, done, heard, loved, felt, basically experienced. If you’ve flown upside down in a plane, that could be the beginning of a story set in year 3054 with human characters who walk on their heads! If you’ve felt sadness over the loss of a pet, you can write about the loss of a loved one.

Basically, take what you know, add sprinkles of salt and pepper to it and voila! Your story!

I have always loved stories! Long before I discovered stories in written form, I found love in oral stories, particularly Igbo folktales. I heard tons of Igbo folktales as a child. I know Igbo folktales like the back of my hand. Naturally, when I started writing seriously, my first thought was to recreate Igbo folktales. But I couldn’t reproduce all the folktales I’d heard, could I?

Enter Fractured Folktales

A fractured folktale is a folktale that is revised or rewritten to appeal to a contemporary audience. It can be laced with humour or restructured to a deliver a social justice message.

  1. Action: Take that folktale you know and love and change something about it.
  • Give it a different main character (or rewrite it from another character’s point of view) or change the human characters to animals or vice versa OR
  • Change the theme OR
  • Give it a different beginning or ending OR
  • Give it a different setting. Take it from year 1601 to year 2075!

2. Read:

Picture Book:

The Greedy Ostrich by Olusayo Ajetunmobi (Original Folktale: Yoruba)

The Missing Chicken by Ugo Anidi (Original folktale: Igbo: How Tortoise Married a Wife with a Grain of Corn)

Chapter Book:

Afro the Girl with the Magical Hair by Okechukwu Ofili (Original fairytale: Brothers Grimm: Rapunzel)

These books are available on the Farafina Books website.

3. More research: Read my blogpost on creating contemporary stories from Igbo folktales here

Want to write a story for children, don’t know where to start? Try a fractured folktale (or fairytale) today. Tell me all about it.

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