Writing for kids keeps us young at heart. How great is that?
But maybe you’ve made the mistake of thinking that “young at heart” means writing in a childish way. Are you underestimating your readers’ intelligence? Is your children's book TOO childlike?
Sure, we’re writing for kids. Sure, I feel like a kid when I write. But we shouldn’t make the mistake of creating books that sound like they’re written by kids – or worse, babies.
Here are three common problems, and quick fixes to make sure you don’t fall into these traps.
1. Baby talk
Language development experts say parents should try to speak normally to even the youngest kids. Some “goo goo” is fine if we’re playing around, but when you’re talking to a baby, you should make an effort to use real words.
Same thing if you’re writing for kids, even babies. Use real words. A grown-up is going to be reading the story, so you don’t have to worry that your words are too hard for kids to read.
And whatever you do, don’t make spelling or grammar mistakes – especially on purpose. Don’t spell fruit as “froot” just because you think it will appeal to kids, or emphasize how hard something was by spelling it “harrrrrrd.”
Would writers REALLY do this? I assure you, they would. I’ve seen some horrors out there. But you’re the one I care about: don’t you do it.