Learning to write is an ongoing process. Those that have the desire to write have usually been writing for years. Scribbling on the back of scrap paper or writing reminders on restaurant napkins is the life of the budding writer. With a story to be told, words, phrases and characters begin to take place as the writer carefully directs these into a plot. When you learn to write for children or young adults you will notice some distinct characteristics that separate them. A clear understanding of their differences will be the deciding point between writing a picture book or including chapters in your book.
Authors usually have an idea of what type of book will best tell their story. As they expand their knowledge about the form and style, they will become proficient in the guidelines for different types of books. For example, picture books have a distinct form that sets them off as books unlike any other. Primarily written for children of preschool age to around second grade, picture books have a limited number of words and pages. They do not have chapters.
The very short attention span and the early cognitive development of this age group, eliminates the need for chapters.Children learn to read at very different rates. Beginning readers need the pictures to help them figure out the words. In the early stages of reading, the pictures are designed to provide reading cues. As their reading skills increase, they no longer need these cues to finish the page. It is at this stage in the child’s development that they start to look for books that are longer, have fewer pictures and have the appearance of adult reading material. It is around the second or third grade that beginning chapter books are introduced.
Understanding the purpose of chapters, will enable the beginning author to learn to write age appropriate chapters for this age group. Children who are used to reading picture books need to feel good about finishing a chapter book. If it is too hard for them, or it looks too hard for them, they will quickly be discouraged. To create a book this age group will read willingly, learn to write by dividing your book into chapters that are short. Each short chapter should create enough interest that the early reader will want to continue reading the rest of the book. Sometimes children will fan through the pages and seeing all the words, decide it is too hard for them.
Books for early readers have chapters that divide the book into small, understandable pieces. Learning to write for this age group will become easier with practice. Try writing short paragraphs that have no more than two or three sentences. As the child is able to finish the paragraphs, they will see themselves finishing the book. Wider spaces between paragraphs and sentences, will give the book the appearance of an adult book. At this age, children are proud to be able to read a book with “lots of pages.”
Learn to write books about any topic or style on the web or in book stores and libraries. Use this information to write books that any publisher would be glad to receive.
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