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  • Writer's pictureTullipStudio Team

DON'T START WRITING A CHILDREN'S BOOK BEFORE KNOWING THIS

Writing a children's book is a wonderful venture that involves creativity, storytelling, and a deep understanding of your audience. Here are the essential steps to guide you through the process:


Step 1: Define Your Audience

Identify the age group you're targeting. Consider the language, themes, and complexity appropriate for that age range. Determining your target audience is a crucial initial step when writing a children's book. Here's a breakdown of age groups and considerations for each:


A. Board Books (Ages 0-3)

  1. Language: Simple, repetitive, and rhythmic language. Words should be easy to pronounce and understand.

  2. Themes: Basic concepts like shapes, colors, numbers, and simple narratives focusing on everyday routines or emotions.

  3. Complexity: Minimal text, sturdy pages, and vibrant, high-contrast illustrations.


B. Picture Books (Ages 3-8)

  1. Language: More varied vocabulary with descriptive language. May include rhymes, rhythms, or repetitive phrases.

  2. Themes: Stories with relatable experiences, imaginative tales, moral lessons, and humor. Exploration of emotions and friendships.

  3. Complexity: Short sentences or paragraphs, engaging illustrations integral to the storytelling.


C. Early Readers (Ages 5-9)

  1. Language: Simple sentences, controlled vocabulary, and gradual introduction of more complex words.

  2. Themes: Adventure, problem-solving, friendship, and relatable scenarios. Beginning to explore different genres.

  3. Complexity: Larger fonts, limited text on each page, more detailed illustrations supporting the text.


D. Middle Grade (Ages 8-12)

  1. Language: More sophisticated language, diverse vocabulary, and deeper exploration of emotions and character development.

  2. Themes: Identity, self-discovery, adventure, moral dilemmas, family, and friendship. Introduction to more complex plotlines and genres.

  3. Complexity: Longer chapters, fewer illustrations, and more intricate storylines.


E. Young Adult (Ages 12-18)

  1. Language: Varied and mature language, exploring deeper emotions, and themes relevant to adolescence.

  2. Themes: Identity, coming-of-age, relationships, societal issues, more complex plot structures, and genres.

  3. Complexity: Longer narratives, diverse character perspectives, and themes that challenge and resonate with older readers.


Understanding the cognitive and emotional development of each age group will help you craft a story that resonates with your intended audience. Always keep in mind the language, themes, and complexities suitable for the chosen age range to ensure your story connects with readers in a meaningful way.


Step 2: Choose a Theme and Message

Decide on the core message or moral you want to convey. Ensure its relatable and understandable for your audience. Choosing a theme or message is fundamental in creating a meaningful children's book. Here's a guide to help you choose a compelling theme and convey a relatable message.


A. Understanding Themes

Themes are the underlying concepts or ideas explored throughout the story. They offer a deeper understanding or lesson for the readers. Some examples include:

  1. Friendship: Emphasizing the value of companionship, cooperation, and empathy.

  2. Courage: Encouraging bravery, resilience, and overcoming fears.

  3. Acceptance and Inclusion: Celebrating diversity, promoting kindness, and understanding differences.

  4. Perseverance: Highlighting the importance of determination, effort, and not giving up.

  5. Identity and Self-Discovery: Exploring self-awareness, individuality, and personal growth.


B. Choosing the Right Theme

Consider these steps to select an appropriate theme for your audience:

  1. Relevance: Ensure the theme is relatable and significant to your target age group. For example, younger children might connect more with themes like friendship or empathy, while older children might appreciate themes related to self-discovery or facing challenges.

  2. Universal Appeal: Aim for themes that resonate universally, regardless of cultural or societal backgrounds, allowing a broader readership to relate to your story.

  3. Engagement: Choose a theme that allows for engaging storytelling. Create characters and situations that effectively convey the message without being didactic.


C. Conveying the Message

Once you've selected your theme, embed it naturally into your story:

  1. Character Development: Show how characters navigate challenges or situations related to the theme, allowing readers to witness growth and change.

  2. Dialogue and Actions: Use conversations and character actions to reinforce the theme without being overly explicit.

  3. Emotional Connection: Engage readers' emotions by connecting the theme to relatable experiences or feelings.


Remember, a well-executed theme not only entertains but also leaves a lasting impact on young readers, fostering empathy, understanding, and growth.


Step 3: Develop Characters

Create engaging and relatable characters. Make them unique, memorable, and aligned with your target audience's interests and experiences.

developing compelling characters is essential in captivating young readers. Here are steps to create memorable characters for your children's book:


A. Understanding Your Audience

Consider the age group and their interests when crafting characters. Younger children might connect better with anthropomorphic animals or fantastical beings, while older kids might relate to more human-like characters facing relatable challenges.


B. Character Elements

  1. Distinct Personality Traits: Give your characters unique qualities that distinguish them. Consider their strengths, weaknesses, fears, and aspirations.

  2. Relatability: Make them relatable by incorporating common experiences or emotions your audience can identify with.

  3. Growth and Development: Allow your characters to evolve throughout the story. Show their journey and lessons learned, aligning with your chosen theme.


C. Steps to Create Characters:

  1. Character Profiles: Develop detailed backgrounds for your characters, including their names, ages (if applicable), appearances, personalities, and motivations.

  2. Visualize Characters: Sketch or describe your characters' physical appearances, considering how they'll be illustrated in the book. Ensure their appearances resonate with your audience.

  3. Backstories and Motivations: Understand why your characters behave the way they do. What drives them? What are their goals? This depth adds authenticity to their actions.

  4. Relatable Challenges: Give your characters challenges or conflicts that resonate with your audience. How they overcome these difficulties can convey your story's message.


Remember, children enjoy characters they can connect with emotionally, so focus on creating personalities that resonate while serving the purpose of your story.


Step 4: Plot and Structure

Outline the storyline with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Keep it simple but engaging, allowing for curiosity and interaction.


Crafting a compelling storyline with a clear structure is key to engaging young readers. Here are steps to outline your children's book plot:


A. Basic Story Structure

  1. Beginning (Introduction): Introduce characters, setting, and the main conflict or goal. Engage readers from the start by creating curiosity or setting the tone.

  2. Middle (Development): Build upon the conflict, introducing obstacles or challenges that characters must overcome. This is where the bulk of the story unfolds, showing character growth and progression.

  3. C0 End (Resolution): Resolve the conflict and conclude the story. Provide closure while reinforcing the message or theme.


B. Steps to Outline

  1. Identify the Conflict or Goal: Determine what challenge or objective your characters will face. Ensure it aligns with the theme and is relatable to your audience.

  2. Create Plot Points: Outline key events or turning points that drive the story forward. Each plot point should contribute to character development or advancing the storyline.

  3. Maintain Engagement: Incorporate elements that encourage interaction or curiosity, such as cliffhangers, mysteries, or moments that prompt readers to predict the outcome.


Additional Tips

  1. Simplicity: Keep the storyline simple and easy to follow, considering your target audience's comprehension level.

  2. Engaging Narration: Use vivid descriptions, dialogue, and action to maintain interest and evoke emotions.

  3. Pacing: Balance the pacing, ensuring a mix of slower moments for character development and faster-paced scenes to maintain excitement.


Remember, while keeping the structure clear, allow room for imagination and exploration within your storyline to captivate young readers' minds.


Step 5: Writing the Manuscript

Maintain a conversational tone, utilize age-appropriate language, and include dialogue and descriptive elements to bring the story to life. Writing the manuscript for a children's book involves several key considerations to engage and captivate your young audience:


A. Crafting the Manuscript

  1. Conversational Tone: Use a friendly and conversational tone that resonates with your target age group. Imagine reading the story aloud to children and aim for a natural flow in your writing.

  2. Age-Appropriate Language: Tailor your language to suit the comprehension level of your audience. Use simple and familiar words, avoiding overly complex vocabulary or concepts that may be difficult for them to grasp.

  3. Dialogue and Interaction: Incorporate dialogue between characters to enhance engagement. Dialogue can reveal personalities, advance the plot, and break up narration, keeping the story dynamic.

  4. Descriptive Elements: Paint vivid pictures with words. Describe scenes, characters, and emotions using sensory details to stimulate imagination.


B. Writing Process

  1. Drafting: Begin by freely writing the story, focusing on getting your ideas down without worrying too much about perfection.

  2. Readability: Ensure sentences are concise and easy to read aloud. Children's books often benefit from rhythmic and repetitive patterns that make the text enjoyable to hear.

  3. Character Voices: If applicable, ensure each character has a distinct voice and manner of speaking, reflecting their personalities.

  4. Engagement Hooks: Start the story with an engaging hook or introduction to immediately capture the reader's attention.

  5. Revision and Refinement: Review and revise your manuscript multiple times. Ensure clarity, coherence, and consistency in the storyline and characters.


Read the manuscript aloud to gauge its rhythm and flow. Pay attention to where the story might lag or where the language could be improved.


Writing a children's book can be a rewarding experience, but there are certain pitfalls to avoid to ensure your book is engaging, age-appropriate, and well-received. Here are some things to avoid when writing a children's book:

  1. Talking Down to Children: Avoid using language that is overly simplistic or condescending. Children are often more perceptive than we give them credit for, so treat them with respect in your writing.

  2. Ignoring Age Appropriateness: Consider the age group you are targeting and tailor your language, themes, and content accordingly. Be mindful of vocabulary, sentence structure, and the complexity of the storyline.

  3. Forgetting to Include a Moral or Lesson: Children's books often have a moral or lesson. While it's important not to be overly didactic, having a positive takeaway can enhance the value of your book.

  4. Lack of Diversity: Ensure that your characters and stories represent a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. Children benefit from exposure to different perspectives.

  5. Overcomplicating the Plot: Keep the storyline simple and easy to follow. Children may lose interest if the plot becomes too complex or if there are too many characters to keep track of.

  6. Ignoring Illustrations: If your children's book is illustrated, make sure the text and illustrations work together harmoniously. The illustrations should complement and enhance the story.

  7. Being Overly Didactic: While it's great to have a lesson or moral, avoid being overly preachy. Children's books should entertain first and foremost. The lesson should feel organic to the story.

  8. Neglecting Read-Aloud Appeal: Children's books are often read aloud, so pay attention to the rhythm and flow of the language. Use engaging dialogue, descriptive language, and consider the cadence of your sentences.

  9. Ignoring Feedback: Don't be resistant to feedback, especially from your target audience (children or their parents). Constructive criticism can help you refine your work and make it more appealing to your audience.

  10. Neglecting Editing and Proofreading: Just like any other genre, children's books need thorough editing and proofreading. Errors in grammar, spelling, or pacing can distract from the overall enjoyment of the story.

  11. Overlooking the Importance of Fun: Remember that children's books should be fun and enjoyable. Don't lose sight of the joy and wonder that comes with reading a good children's story.

By being mindful of these potential pitfalls, you can create a children's book that is engaging, age-appropriate, and memorable.


Remember, writing for children involves creativity, simplicity, and a deep understanding of your audience's needs and interests. Enjoy the process of crafting a story that will enchant and inspire young readers.

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