Writing a children’s book? Here are seven key ingredients
Have you got a book in you? Are you yearning to write a story for children? Do you have tales of your own that you think would translate to literature for a younger audience? At The Elephant’s Trunk, we write and publish wonderful books for children of all backgrounds and abilities, and we also love to encourage others to write. We were born out of a passion for writing and literature, that was innate in our co-founder and author Teresa Bellamy. She’s following her dream, and we want to encourage others to do the same.
But while lots of people want to write, few get going because they aren’t sure how to start or what would make a compelling children’s book. Here are a our tips on what to include, which we hope will get you off the starting blocks.
Not everyone would put this at number one, but for the team here at The Elephant’s Trunk, it’s an essential part of any children’s book.
While we adore all the classics – the Famous Five, the Railway Children, Five Children and It, The Secret Garden etc – they aren’t famed for their inclusivity.
We want children to be able to identify with the heroes of their stories, so that means including children from all backgrounds and with all abilities. We live in a colourful world with lots of different people, and modern children’s literature should reflect this.
2. An engaging plot
A great children's book should have an interesting and compelling plot that keeps young minds engaged and interested in the story. This could involve a fun adventure, a mystery to solve, or a relatable character going through a relatable experience. Even fantasies, while not in the ‘real world’ involve real emotions and experiences – excitement, happiness, trepidation, jeopardy, friendship and teamwork.
3. Memorable characters
Children’s books often feature colourful and memorable characters that readers can relate to and empathise with. Whether it’s a brave hero, a silly sidekick, or a mischievous animal, the characters should be well-developed and likable.
4. Age-appropriate language
The language and vocabulary used in a children’s book should be appropriate for the age group it’s intended for. This means using simple words and sentence structures for younger readers, and more complex ones for older readers.
5. Great illustrations
A great children’s book should have beautiful illustrations that help bring the story to life and capture the reader’s imagination. The illustrations should be colourful, creative and well-executed. All The Elephant’s Trunk books are illustrated by the wonderful team at Happydesigner.
6. A positive message
Many children's books have a positive message or moral that can help teach them important lessons about life, friendship, and empathy. The message should be age-appropriate and delivered in a way that can be easily understood.
7. Fun and humour
Children’s books should be fun and entertaining, with plenty of opportunities for humour and even silliness. Youngsters love to laugh and be entertained, so incorporating fun and humour into the story can make it more enjoyable and memorable. An amusing title will entice readers in, and if you include a comic side, even in a serious book, they won’t be disappointed.
Overall, a great children's book should be engaging, memorable, age-appropriate, beautifully illustrated, have a positive message, and be fun and entertaining. And, above all, inclusive. Get those ingredients right, and you have the recipe for brilliant children’s literature. As a starter for ten, why not browse through our books, because they are great examples of how it should be done. Happy writing!