One Writer’s Journey

May 19, 2017

Creating Kid Content: Are You Ready?

Young readers – don’t fence them in.

Thursday I watched an interesting Ted Talk, What Adults Can Learn from Kids with Adora Svitak. Svitak makes some interesting points, especially for those of us who create for a younger audience.   (My plan was to link to it but that funciton seems to be “limited” today, so I’ll imbed the video below.)

When adults get “creative,” they put limiters on it.  Thus, the quotation marks.  An idea that is too big or like something never seen before will often by labled impossible and be dropped.  Adults look at how much something costs, weighing the cost benefits of an idea.  They wonder how it will ultimately benefit them.

Young creators, in contrast, reach for the impossible.  They consider whether an idea is fun or awesome over whether or not is plausible or practical.  Kids think in terms of perfection (perfectly fun, perfectly amazing) and abundance (what if everyone could have X) where an adult would immediately look at how practical the idea is.

Given the differences between how adults and our young audiences think, it isn’t surprising that adults think in terms of limits and rules and what kids can handle.  Svitak would appreciate it if we would just knock that off, thank you.

What does this have to do with our writing?  This is me, not Svitak, talking but I have to imagine that she would encourage us to push our perceived limits.  When writing (or illustrating) for young readers, consider the following:

What would make this story more fun?  Silly?  Laugh-out-loud fabulous?

What are my perceived limits where this story is concerned?  Perhaps it has to do with what my reader would understand or who my characters are.  What would happen if I stepped beyond that?

What would happen if instead of the current setting my story was set someplace extreme?  Someplace high or low, hot or cold or simply out of this world?

What does my audience already know about this nonficiton topic?  Why only that?  How can I make my story bigger, better or more extreme?  (While other kids were hearing The Wheels on the Bus, her father was reading them Pioneer Germ Fighters by Navin Sullivan.  Yes, it is a book for young readers but it wasn’t a book for preschoolers.

What limits have you needlessly put on your audience and your work?





February 24, 2011

Educational Standards

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:43 am
Tags: ,

Whether you are writing for an educational company or simply want to be able to tell your editor that your manuscript meets typical 3rd grade standards for reading, some knowledge of current educational standards and how children learn is a must.   Here are some sites to give you an edge:

Common Core State Standards

If you work often with state standards, you’ve probably noticed that they are becoming increasingly similar.  In part, this is due to the movement to have common standards adopted nationwide.  Find out what these standards are for reading and math here.

Among other offerings, The Bank Street College of Education site lists traits shared by students at certain reading levels.  Click below to find out more:

Emergent Readers and Writers (pre-K through 1st grade)

Early Readers (1st and 2nd grade)

Early Fluent and Fluent Readers (2nd and 3rd grade)

Use this information to make your work spot on for your target reader.


April 13, 2009

How to tell if you think like your readers…

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:51 am

crossWhat does this look like to you?

When the Worship Commission decided to hand these out at Easter service, we thought they were palm frond crosses.  Silly us. 

Sunday morning saw me at one end of our pew.  My husband sat at the other.  In between perched four boys aged 10 years, 9 years, 8 years and 6 years.  (Note:  Three of them were loaners, borrowed just for the service.)

Each of us received a cross on our way into the sanctuary.  In the course of ten minutes I said all of the following:

  • That is a palm leaf cross, not a fighter plane. 
  • Those are crosses, not swords.
  • Get that thing out of your nose.  Now.
  • Look, I really mean it about your nose and that cross.
  • Do not put it in his ear.  Or your ear.  And don’t you dare lean forward.  Those people don’t even know you.

At that point, they all calmed down and I began to wonder what is in Easter chocolate.  Apparently, a slow acting sedative. 

But where we saw a cross, they saw a great deal more.  What did you see?  Depending on where you are and who you are writing for, some answers are better than others. 

And don’t even ask what happened when we all got Magdalene eggs at the end of the service. 

Do not even ask.

They are so pretty and seemed like SUCH a good idea.


January 7, 2009

Why Bother Writing

With publishers letting staff go and the burden of making time to write, you may wonder why you bother.  Why write?  Why not just eat and watch TV? 

Assuming you could find something to watch and that the kids haven’t eaten all the best munchies, you write because you love to do it.  You write in hopes of giving a child a moment like this with your book or magazine piece.

The book is 19 Girls and Me by Darcy Pattison.   This is the Chinese translation.  In spite of the fact that I only know about five non-food words in Chinese, I got so caught up in the excitement that I had to run and get my copy and read along with him.   Clearly, HeiHei adores this book and nothing is better than sharing it with his parents and all of us too.  

This is why we make time to write.  To bring this type of joy to a child.  Bringing joy to his parents isn’t bad but look at how happy he is.  How do you beat that? 


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