Hello from Crystal Bowman, writing from sunny Florida where the air is getting warmer every day. I’ve been writing for children for more than twenty years and am still learning. When it comes to writing for children, the more you learn and the more you know, the harder it gets. I write mostly for the preschool market, but also write devotions for beginning readers as well as for kids ages 6-10.
One of the challenges in writing for the preschool market is the word count. The average picture book has less than 1000 words. If the story is written in rhyme, it’s around 500-600 words. Boardbooks can be around 200-400 words depending on how many pages are in the book. With so few words in a book, every word counts!
Here are a few tips for choosing the best words:
- Use concrete nouns — Use words you can visualize like tree, car, and airplane. Avoid the use of abstract nouns when writing for young children. If you can’t picture it, neither can they.
The farmer rides the tractor past the big red barn.
The bluebirds are eating seeds they find in the birdhouse.
See the furry kitten sleeping on her mat?
- Use action verbs — Action verbs make your stories come alive.
Sarah is skipping all the way home.
Sophia climbed onto the sofa to read her book.
Let’s pull the door open, then push it shut.
- Be specific — The more specific you are with your words, the better visuals you create.
Four ladybugs are crawling on the daisies.
Three bunnies are hopping through the grass.
Sam’s shoelaces are red and Joe’s are green.
- Word Play — Alliteration, onomatopoeia, repetition, and rhyme are other ways to make your stories engaging and fun to read.
“Quack, quack, quack,” said the mama duck.
Two tiny twinkling stars shine in the sky.
I see a toad hopping in the road.
When writing for young children, remember to count your words and make every word count!