Writing for the Under 7s

kids' books

There is nothing more infectious than laughter and enthusiasm and Kirsty, from Waterstones, gave us enough of both last night to light the blue touch paper of a new writing year. She confessed to being nervous but within moments her passion for children’s books shone through and nerves were forgotten. She brought a treasure trove of her favourites and used them to illustrate the points she wished to make. From time to time Kirsty apologised as she put on her ‘capitalist pig’ hat and shared statistics that were encouraging to any writer who is interested in publishing a book aimed at the under-sevens. It is a growing market, due to the fact that most 3-7 year olds read books not Kindles (other electronic reading devices are available). It’s difficult, we agreed, to lift the flap or stroke the penguin on an e-reader!

Many of us were delighted to see our children’s favourite books still going strong e.g. Each Peach Pear Plum and The Jolly Postman. To hear that children go into bookshops asking for Enid Blyton books was, strangely, comforting. The Magic Faraway Tree has been in the Top 20 for the past six months.

It is nonetheless encouraging to know that there is plenty of room on the shelves for new authors, even some who choose to self-publish.

Kirsty was delighted that we are keen to try writing for children and gave us a few tips for making stories appealing to children (and those who buy their books).

Some suggestions were:

interactivity – flaps, enclosures

illustrations – your own ideas, drawings or those of a known illustrator

appeal to senses – ‘touchy/feely’

first experiences – starting school

‘favourite friends’ – characters e.g. Postman Pat, Peppa Pig

use of Scots – The Gruffalo’s Wean, Wee Mirren Moose

use of rhyme – The Worst Princess

seasonal slant – Mr Wolf’s Pancakes

occasions – birthdays

use of interesting and differing fonts

For me, the highlight of the evening was to listen to Kirsty reading from books that she and today’s children love. A wee boy may have asked her on one school visit, ‘Can you please stop?’ but I could have listened to Kirsty all night.

So, it seems all we need to do is add these tips to what we’ll learn from Maggie next week and look out Waterstones – here we come!

Pat Young

One comment

  1. Thanks for this, Pat. You’ve caught the atmosphere and enthusiasm of the evening perfectly!

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