One Writer’s Journey

September 21, 2017

Writing Nonfiction for Children: Selecting the Right Word

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:54 am
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It looked like this for 7 days.

Day 8.

For just over a week now, my family and I have had a visitor hanging out in our back yard. My husband spotted this monarch chrysalis hanging on the back of the house. This morning, I wandered outside just in time to see it . . . hatch. . . emerge? What exactly do you call it when a butterfly comes out of a chrysalis?

When you write nonfiction for young readers, you quickly learn just how important it is to use the right word. Adults often want to dumb down writing for children but kids want to know the right word. They wanted to be trusted with that inside knowledge.  

Respect your reader and you are going to take the time to find the words that are appropriate to your topic.  In this case, before I posted about it, I made sure it was in fact a monarch chrysalis.  Yes, there other bright green chrysalis but none of them are this smooth.  Definitely a monarch.

Day 9.

I already knew that a monarch turns into a chrysalis vs spinning a cocoon.  A butterfly caterpillar sheds its skin and becomes the chrysalis.  The chrysalis literally emerges as the skin splits and shifts upward.  We missed getting to see that happen.

When a moth reaches this stage, it constructs a cocoon.  Think about the silk worm cocoon.  That’s a moth.

Before I could write about the final stage, I yet again had to find a word.  I simply didn’t know what the term was for “butterfly popping out of chrysalis.”  A butterfly emerges.

Be careful to do your research and use the correct terms.  Make an assumption or pick something else simply because it is easier and you may very well be found out by one of your young readers.  Remember – they love all these fantastic terms.  They want to use the jargon of a real scientist, historian, doctor or pilot.

Give them what they demand and keep them reading.

–SueBE

 

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