Lessons I Learned Writing for Younger Readers

I thought that package I spotted on the front porch was my son’s text books. Instead, it was author’s copies aka early Christmas!

Many of the books I work on are for tweens and teens, but not this batch. The two on the bottom are hi-lo. These are written at a third grade level for readers in sixth grade and above.

When my editor asked if I wanted to write Fossil Fuel Pollution, a book for third graders, I jumped at the opportunity.

Written for third graders. I can do that, I thought. After all, I’ve written five books at a third grade reading level. Cue the wicked laughter.

Fossil Fuel Pollution may have been written at the same reading level, but the book was much shorter. It has 32 pages, just like a picture book. Still I had to include an introduction, air pollution, water pollution, solid waste, and what the reader can do about it. That’s a lot for a short format.

I did my research and started writing the book. Before long I had blown right past my word count. This wasn’t even going to be close. I could have stopped, but I kept writing. Then I went back and looked each section over.

It was easy to spot the key points. I copied those into a new document. Then I added in what was 100% essential for my reader to understand those points. Next, I added examples and made sure that the writing included details and was very specific. I just didn’t have room for vague. I had to get to the point NOW. I simply didn’t have room to stray from the point.

Before I wrote this, I thought I was good at writing tight. This book was definitely a lesson in weighing each fact and each word and something that continues to shape my writing.