Here I am at the tail end (yes, I meant to say tail) of the Book Love Blog Hop. I was invited to participate in this February long event by writing buddy Peggy Asher. Book Love gives us a chance to write about books we love, and I have to say that I’ve read some great books lately. Today I’m going to focus on beginning readers.
First of all, I ‘d like to recommend Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant. I got to know this series as the mother of a young reader so I can tell you this — if you want to write early readers, read Cynthia Rylants books. She has both the Mr. Putter and Tabby series and the Henry and Mudge series. It isn’t easy to create characters with depth as well as solid plots in this brief format but Rylant succeeds and adds humor as well.
Another author who pulls this off is Mo Willems with his Elephant and Piggie series, including one of his recent titles, Waiting Is Not Easy. Part of the reason that Willems’ books are such a hit is that children identify with these characters. This particular book is about waiting for a surprise and Elephant is the quintessential impatient child. Willems’ books are much simpler than Rylants. He aims for the very youngest new readers. His illustrations are so expressive that they add depth to his book.
Last but not least, I’d like to recommend Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo. Di Camillo’s books are for slightly older readers, more advanced than Rylant’s readers. She doesn’t write down to her readers as you can see when you encounter phrases like “very exceptionally cheap.” Readers will work through the challenge for the laugh-out-loud humor in her stories.
If you are interested in writing beginning readers, check these books out and make note of the differences. Willems uses no chapters because he is writing for the youngest end of this audience. Rylant’s books have chapters but aren’t as difficult as Di Camillo’s books which also have chapters. Note the changes in the humor and the vocabulary.
It isn’t an easy market to break into but these are definitely the books to study. Write like this, and your work will stand against the best.