Writing a good children’s storybook is easy, or is it? Everyone thinks they could write one and many people actually do . But what separates the good from the not so good? I once read that if your children’s story is a good one, the reader will actually become invisible as he reads the pages to an audience of children. How can a good story make a reader become invisible to their audience? I am sure there are many different thoughts on that, but after having read zillions of books to preschool children over the past 25 years here are a few of mine…thoughts that is.
It is not so difficult to see happens when a good story is read…it holds the attention of the listener. Sometimes my reading was with one child, but when reading to a group of preschooler who sat still and quiet as I read to them, that was more telling. Illustrations are an important part of a children’s book but it is the words that really grab and hold the attention of a group of children. So let’s not think about pictures for a minute..just the written word.
From my experience I would say that a good children’s story is one that will draw wonderful mental pictures in the mind of a child. There should be lots of color and descriptive words. A good children’s story uses verbs for action and prepositions…on, under, over etc…to help draw a mental image. Repetition is good…of words or of actions. A good story should have some magic and surprise. One person who read “Sam’s Weird Afternoon” thought that maybe my story needed to answer some why questions such as why did shoes keep appearing? Why was he worried about his mom finding out? No, no, no is what I say. I believe that a child is not looking for all the answers as we adults do. Children’s worlds are so much larger than ours. They are able to travel to places we can’t even imagine and believe in things that to us make absolutely no sense at all . Magic, imagination and wonder are things many of us have lost along the way. Take Santa and the Easter Bunny for example.
How does one know if they have written a good children’s story? I believe the best critic of any children’s story is a child. He/she may not be able to tell you that a part is boring but if you read to a child you can tell just by the look on a face or the wonder in the eyes. Books are a wonderful way to spend time with a child.
Soooo……Find a good book … a child… and read.