Often times it is easy when writing for children to lose sight of the fact that while you are indeed crafting stories to delight and amuse children, you must also write to impress and dazzle the adults that are in charge of those children. After all, it is the parents, grandparents, caregivers and educators that have the ultimate say in which books they decide to purchase or select to read to the children in their care.
This, however, creates a unique challenge for children’s writers that other writers simply cannot relate to. Fortunately, this task becomes much easier when we understand what adults are looking for when choosing books for their children.
Keep these five things in mind if you would like to write a book for children that also appeals strongly to the adult audience as well:
Adults love books that allow them an opportunity to share their own interests with their children. This is especially relevant to parents and grandparents, as it opens up an opportunity to invite the children they love into their world for a change. For example if a grandmother frequently vacationed in Hawaii, she would probably get great joy and satisfaction from sharing her love of the island with her grandchildren through reading a book such as, Tutu Nene: The Hawiian Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes by Deborah Ryll.
Adults value books that explain a sensitive issue in a way that is developmentally appropriate and helps children process it. This is often what parents, teachers and therapists are looking for to help them break the ice when trying to broach the topic with a child. For example a parent of a preschool-aged child who is going through a divorce would find a story like, It’s Not Your Fault KoKo Bear by Vicki Lansky very helpful.
Adults enjoy books that elicit a wide range of emotions that they can experience together with their child. This is because when an adult and child share in an emotion together it creates quality bonding time between the two. A great example of this can be found in Bunny My Hunny by Anita Jeram.
Adults cherish books that inspire both themselves as well as their children to do something extraordinary or become better people. The great thing about inspiration is, once we catch it, we have an innate desire to share it! So, when an adult can find inspiration for themselves in a children’s book they cannot help but want to immediately share the message with their children! A fantastic example of this type of book is, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud. This book has won 8 awards and what the author does not tell us is that it is just as relevant to adults as it is to our children!
Adults appreciate books that can tell a great story in as few words as possible. In this day and age when parents are working at demanding full-time jobs and also tending to household responsibilities and children are involved in many activities throughout their days, a relatively short story is just the ticket – especially when children ask to have it read again…and again!
As an adult, what do you most often look for when purchasing books for the children in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.