30 Tips for Writing Delightful Children’s Books Day 2

WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS TIP #2: READ! READ!! READ!!!

Stephen King

15 years ago, I met my ‘then’ role model and I excitedly asked her the million-dollar question: “What can I do to become a world-famous writer like you?” I expected a million-dollar answer, a one-way ticket to stardom, the secret to Enid Blyton’s success, something utterly profound.

What I got was:

Read Read Read.

Mschew, I thought as I walked away.

A decade and some later, I know now that she gave me the best piece of writing advice in the world! In fact, this should have been Tip #1. 😊 Do you want to become a bestselling children book author? Please read hundreds of books by other children’s book authors! Hundreds! Thousands! Set a monthly reading target! There is NO OTHER WAY.

Also ….

A… Read what you would like to write

If you love historical fiction and you would like to write a piece of historical fiction set in Nigeria with a 12-year-old main character, please read at least 20 middle grade historical fiction novels set in Africa before you start writing. Read another 20 after writing your first draft. Note: Novels which provide examples of good writing are called mentor texts.

and

BRead like a writer.

When you read, look out for craft elements* that the writer used to perfection and write them down. Note the way the writer uses them. Elements to look out for: point of view, character development, plot, theme, worldbuilding/setting, dialogue, scenes, literary devices, etc.

  1. Action: Create a Read like a Writer Journal.

For every book you read, write the craft element that appealed to you in your journal.

Here’s what mine looks like:

S/NBOOK CRAFT ELEMENTOther
1Beasts Made of NightTochi OnyebuchiMemorable Action ScenesYA, African magical realism
2Zahrah the WindseekerNnedi OkoroaforWorldbuilding!!!!!!YA, African magical realism
3Aru Shah and the End of TimeRoshani ChokshiWorldbuildingMG, Mythology
4Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the SkyKwame MbaliaWorldbuilding, themeMG Mythology
5Lalani of the Distant SeaErin Entrada KellyWorld Building, Xter Development (Hetsbi)MG, Magical realism
6How to Find What You’re Not Looking ForVeera HiranandaniCharacter, 2nd person Point of view, emotional connection with writer: lots of heart, theme,MG, Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Disability, Discrimination
7Children of Blood and BoneTomi AdeyemiWorldbuilding, Excellent Xter Development (Amari + Prince Inan), internal dialogue, 1st person point of view x 3YA, Yoruba Mythology, The Orisha
RLAW Table

This table shows you the stuff I loved/learnt from the books I’ve read in recent times but it also shows you something else: the nature of the story I’m currently working on and the type of story I’d like to try after this project.

I am currently working on a middle grade piece of historical fiction with elements of magical realism. The bit on mythology is for my next project. 😊

2. Read.

So, figure out the theme/genre of your next writing project and start reading.

Want to write a story for children, don’t know where to start? Tell me all about it and we can figure out the theme and some mentor texts for you!

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*post on craft elements coming soon

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