Monday, 11 July 2011

Writing for children is child’s play.

How old are you? That should be your first question.

Where are you? Is also a key piece of information.

What do you see? This is essential.

As a child these three things make up a large portion of your experience of
the world around you. Every child has a unique emotional experience of their
world but it all begins with three key things.

To write for children you need to become childlike. Put yourself in the shoes
of a four year old and imagine that first day at kinder. What do you see, how
does it smell, and what can you hear? If you can’t even begin to imagine it then
maybe you should write for adults. I’m not saying I have a perfect memory and
can remember every detail of my first day at kindergarten but I do remember
snippets and I have recollections of my kids at their kinder too. I can put myself
in that space and try and think like a four year old.

If you are a parent like me be wary of telling a story as it should be instead of
as it really is.

You are no longer in charge.

This is about how the child sees the world. It may not be neat and tidy or of the
best behaviour but it should be realistic for a child to engage with it. You can’t
bullshit a kid about their world, they’ll know.

Kids speak differently to adults. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they’re
stupid because of this. Their vocabulary may be simple but their agile minds
are razor sharp.

They hear everything, they see everything and their observations are often
blunt and to the point.

They may come to some interesting conclusions based on these observations
and that is where the writer should be. Right there in the thick of it, seeing the
world through wondering eyes at a world full of never ending new sights and

A world where everything will be different when I grow up. I’ll eat (candy) lollies for
breakfast and wear my red gumboots to bed. I’ll stay up watching television as
late as I want and I’ll never eat brussell sprouts again.

Are you starting to get the picture, I’m sure you are now.

To write for children you have to be like them. We were all kids once, tap into
those memories. Make a point of observing kids in the supermarket or playing
in the park. Pretty soon you’ll be back eating rainbow sundaes and drinking
chocolate milk while your pen skips across the page. Above all else remember
to have fun that’s what kids do.

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Guest Blogger: Phyllis Theroux on Keeping a Journal

Guest Blogger: Phyllis Theroux on Keeping a Journal: "

Phyllis Theroux is an acclaimed essayist, columnist, teacher, and the author of the memoir, The Journal Keeper.

Journal-keeper Imagine there is a room in your house which is just for you. When you walk into it, you feel as if you are standing near a wood stove, surrounded by all of the people you love. The windows look out upon familiar scenes from your life. But your eyes work better here. The view is richer, more detailed. Now imagine that you can pull this room out of your pocket whenever you open your journal. Would you become a journal keeper?

To keep a good journal you need two things--time and the desire to lead a richer, more conscious life. Does this sound too difficult? Maybe yes. If you are the parent of young children, or holding down two jobs, you get up at six a.m. and don’t stop until midnight. Time is a luxury you don’t have, until you wake up one morning and realize you have misplaced your life.

I was 35 when this happened to me. Everything I cherished was in jeopardy, including a marriage I had run out of ways to fix. Frighteningly, I had two friends in similar circumstances who had died (one of cancer, another of a heart attack) because, in my view, they couldn’t figure another way out. I didn’t want this to happen to me.

I began to keep a journal. Every morning when I opened up to a new page, I felt as if I had been given a fresh start. When I pressed my pen down upon the paper, I was creating a line to follow. The voice I needed to hear the most was waiting for me to hitch up my chair and listen. Keeping a journal saved my life. Re-reading it made me realize that a hand greater than my own was guiding it across the page.

When you are young and full of tumult, no one tells you that each year brings a little more light and peace into your life. My days, like the pages in my journal are numbered, but keeping a journal reminds me to savor them. And, should you cross my path with a new idea, an irresistible joke, or a story too good for forget, I will un-cap my pen, open my journal and savor you.

-- Phyllis Theroux

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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

How to Buy Childrens Books Your Kids Will Love

Author: Mark Etinger

If you find your child glued to their favorite television shows and video games, and having a hard time getting them to do anything else, it's time to intervene and encourage the habit of reading in them while they're still young and impressionable.

Literacy is extremely important, especially for young, growing minds; and there is no better way to get the ball rolling than to introduce your child to fiction childrens books.  Studies show that children who read regularly do better in school and are much better at critical thinking skills. But you can't just choose any book and expect your child to like it.

Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you buy childrens books that will actually be read by your child. If you pick something they like, it could lead to a whole new hobby and a brighter future for your child.

1) A great way to ensure you choose a book your child will love is to be aware of their current interests. Think about, if you as an adult have no interest in truck driving and someone gets you a book about it as a gift, there's very little chance you'll read it. The same goes with your kids. The more you know about your child and what they like, the easier it is to find a book relating to those interests. As soon as they realize that books are fun and something they can relate to, the more eager they'll be to read more.

2) Take your child to the bookstore and tell them that the purpose of trip is so they can pick out their very own book. This will get them excited about making their own choices. Also, being in an environment like a bookstore will show them all the endless reading opportunities that are out there.

3) Find the section where your child's interests are located.

4) Once at the bookstore, let your child browse at his or her own pace. It's important they take their time to explore the environment and assess their interests. 5) Next, have you child choose a book that they think they will read. If there is more than one their interested in, let them pick two or three. But keep in mind that children's interests change quickly. You don't want to end up with 10 books about dinosaurs and two weeks later your child realizes they really don't like dinosaurs after all. To prevent this from happening, encourage them to pick a variety of subjects.

6) If you're child is undecided or uninterested in the process, ask a sales person what the most popular books within their age group are and where they're located. Show a few of them to your child and tell them that other kid's their age think the book is really good. Knowing that a peer already likes a book could make them more apt to read it.

If you buy childrens books and your child still isn't into them, try reading the books with your child. Parental involvement is a great way to spark your child's interest and is also a great bonding exercise.

------ Sword Pen Childrens Book Publishers are dedicated to creating smart children's literature. They feel fiction childrens books shouldn't talk down to the child, but should be challenging and engaging.

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Saturday, 7 May 2011

Children's Books are Written for a Purpose

Author: Mike McMahon

Reading children's books to your kids is not just because you want to put them to sleep. Nor is it because you want to distract them from other things.

Children's books are created because they serve a special purpose. And that is to expose your child early on to what life is all about.

In their young age, they will not be able to get the essence behind fairy tales or adventures yet. But as they grow older, they will see the values behind each tale that children's books present. Once they see what those books are all about, they will be a little bit wiser about their perception of life and what they should do about it.

Exposing your kids to reading children's books does not mean that they should make it the center of their life. Most parents are not aware of the thin line that separates a bookworm and book addict. A book worm is one that loves reading books. While a book addict is one who does nothing but read books.

You as parents have a role to play to ensure that your child do not end up like the latter. Below are some tips on how kids should go about reading children's books.

1. There should be a reading balance.

There is nothing wrong if you see that your children love to read children's books. But it is a different case if you notice that your child is not even interacting with others anymore or is not interested in other things.

You should set a limit for them such as when to read and when to stop. Granted that the stories in children's books make it hard to let go, but your child also needs other forms of activities and other things to do.

2. Find time to read to your kids.

When your children were just toddlers, they loved hearing you read them stories from children's books. Your children anticipated the times that you read to them. But when they get older, you stopped reading to them because maybe you think that they are old enough to do that for themselves.

This should not be the case. Children are not too old to have their parents read to them. It is during these times that you are sharing a mutual bond with them. That is your constant tie with them.

Children know that you are busy most of the time and they let you be to do the things that you need to do. Reading to them is one of the only times that they have your full attention and your closeness. Do not break that connection by stopping your habit of reading children's books to them.

3. Let your children do the reading.

This is the opposite of what was just mentioned. In this case, you are the one that is listening. And your children are the readers. Make them feel all grown up by letting them read the children's books. Listen to them enliven the scenes from each story.

Listening to them is showing that you have the time to share these special moments with them. It can help in getting your closer to them now and keeping you close as they grow older.

Children's books are not there just because it is what everyone has or it is the latest out in the market. Children's book are really about bonding and closeness.

Take advantage of the opportunity that reading childrens books offers for developing and maintaining a close bond to your children

Learn more at Help Raising Children.

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How to get started in Writing for Children

Author: Gareth Hoyle

Writing for children can be a genuinely magical experience, because it’s as rewarding for you as it will be for the children who will end up reading or listening to your words. That’s the good news. The bad news is that getting taken on by a major publisher is as tough now as it’s ever been, so you need to set your sights high from the off.
Writing for Children: Getting Started
Let's assume you start with passion, an idea, and nothing else. What should you do next?

The first thing is to build your skills. 'How to Write' books can offer a useful start, but they can't give you feedback and advice on your own work. For most people then, a Writing For Children course will probably the best first step. A good course will always be taught by a professional, published children's author, and ideally one with a strong knowledge of the current publishing market.

You should also look for a course (such as those run by the Writers' Workshop) that offer intensive interaction with your tutor, and real feedback on any homework assignments.

Any decent Writing for Children course will cover all the basics: getting your idea, testing the market, developing a plot, building characters, working on your writing style, and how to seek publication. You should also develop the skills to pitch your work at the right children's age group.

Writing for Children: Getting Stuck in
The next step is very simple - and very daunting. You need to start writing your book. Just sit down and do it.

It helps to realise that what you write at this stage probably isn't going to be terribly good. Doesn't matter. You only get better by practicing, and that means writing. A lot of writers will want to test their work on their own children. That's definitely a good idea, but do remember that your children probably aren't the most impartial of judges!

Writing for Children: Getting feedback
Some writers will want to complete their book before getting feedback. Others will want to seek advice at a halfway point or even earlier. It doesn't matter which way you choose to approach this, but do make sure you get professional written feedback on your work, as soon as you're ready for it. That pro advice will tell you what is working well in your writing, but it'll also highlight the things that aren't yet right and which need to be addressed.

You should get detailed feedback from a professional children's author who is very familiar in working with with first time writing. The Writers' Workshop (naturally) has an excellent range of feedback services for you to choose from.

Writing for Children: Getting an agent
Once you have completed your book, and taken advice on it, and re-edited it, and if necessary taken more advice and re-re-edited it (!), you are probably ready to seek a literary agent.

You almost certainly do need an agent to help secure a publisher for you, simply because most children's publishers won't accept writing from any other route. The Writers' Workshop can help secure a literary agent - or browse for more articles from us on this crucial step.

By Harry Bingham, of the Writers' Workshop. Harry is a best-selling, prize short-listed author of novels and non-fiction, including the category-leading book on Getting Published. The Writers' Workshop offers a range of  Writing for Children  courses, and also offers professional feedback and advice for all those  writing for children . We look forward to helping.

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