What Kids Want: An insight For Writers

English: The Children's Literature Barnstar
English: The Children’s Literature Barnstar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our upstate New York town where we camp on weekends, has become a ghost town. We’ve watched it lose many businesses over almost twenty years. Our property taxes are higher on our woodland retreat than at our residence in Massachusetts. We have no town maintained road, sewer, water or electricity there BUT the town has a wonderful little library.

There is always a smiling face behind the desk (some folks volunteer their services) and a sign with upcoming events for families. The children’s area is very inviting and the staff display their weekly recommendations for interesting adult reading too.

My granddaughter will be 7 years old in September. On our most resent visit, she was searching for chapter books. Katherine has reading ability appropriate for her age but a desire to move on to books that offer a better ongoing story. There were few to satisfy this appetite. I also found that she preferred hardcover books to soft-bound. Hardcover books represent a better story in her 6-year-old reasoning.

I’m not at the stage in my “writing for children” adventure to produce such a book. I want to offer this accidentally discovered void in children’s literature to folks who may have been unaware of it and could take advantage. It is a critical time for Kat. She has watched the adults in her life use bookmarks and enjoy stories that unfold. Most importantly, she is deeply interested now. As she becomes a more social kid at the ripe ages of 7 and 8, she may move away from reading for fun.

I remember my own search for a better story, at a similar age. I also remember not being able to find “chapter books”  to meet my early needs either. I quickly lost interest and did not return to recreational reading for 20 years.

This is a shout out from a grandmother to those who are looking for a special writing arena yet to be marketed. I believe there’s a consumer group to satisfy with early reader chapter books.

Keeping Kids Creative: Summer Book Club

With the last day of formal schooling racing toward us, the question of how to entertain the kids and keep them learning arises.

I have a few ideas for activities in my category named “Keeping Kids Creative”.

My mother had a great idea inspired by our own book club meetings. Why not start a Kids Book Club?

There are so many ways a gathering of similar aged kids could be successful.

A few ideas:

  • Offer prizes to those who participate and make the gathering a party-like atmosphere.
  • Have kids write their own stories to share from photo or word prompts. Compile the entries in a homemade book for them to keep.
  • Ask kids to bring and share their favorite books.
  • Offer a book topic, have the kids find a book that reflects the topic, then have a read-a-thon.
  • Give kids a camera and have them print out a photo journal of their vacation trip or a topic of interest. (Walmart prints photo books rather cheaply…check out their photo gift page.)
  • Have a letter writing campaign. Maybe to long-lost relatives or to a children’s book author.
  • Make t-shirts and name your club. Possibly follow one or two specific authors. Contacting that author may be a great idea too. They just might enjoy reaching out to your club.

I’m sure with this germ of an idea, creative parents can come up with others. Consider the cost of the pizza party or photo books, an investment, rather than a burden. When you compare what you spend on day camps, video games and gas running them to other activities, it isn’t much.

Remember parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and mentors: You are the most influential  teachers that your kids will ever have.

Just a thought…have a great summer people!

Any other ideas would be appreciated in my comments. 🙂

Mo Williams’ Pigeon Books

Katherine’s (age 6) favorite new book is one from a series of delightfully entertaining and easy to read children’s books. Kat is familiar with this series with some of them already in her own library.

The author/ illustrator combines humor and dialog very well. Katherine reads these books entirely by herself and enjoys making the characters real with her newly learned ability to interpret punctuation.

Pigeon gets very annoyed when he thinks a duckling got preferred treatment. He shouts and rants about wanting his own cookie until the duckling offers it to him instead.

My granddaughter read this story out loud to me a dozen times. She enjoyed adding the exasperated tone that Pigeon uses. Listening to the story as she brought it to life, made me chuckle on every reading. Katherine enjoyed my reaction and therefore, read it many times.

If you want a recommended gift for beginning readers, this series is a winner. “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is one of Mo Williams‘ most famous stories but the series is all good and worth owning.