Sunday, February 24, 2013

Keeping it easy for Kids

Joe Burkhart reading The Giving Meadow

By: Stephanie Burkhart

I volunteer in my son's classroom every other week. He's in 1st grade now. The experience is especially rewarding because I love watching my son interact and grow with his classmates.

The children enjoy having books read to them. Their eyes really light up when its reading time.

After reading my story to them this past week, my son's teacher began asking questions. It was a nice reminder to me, as a writer, how important it is to keep it easy for kids. Most five-year-olds appreciate how you, the author, put story elements together and the proof is in their smiles. Some elements to keep in mind:


The setting should be something the kids can relate to – a house, backyard, forest, lake, or beach.


Characters should be easy to relate to. For example: Mom, Dad, a dog, a cat, or bugs. What makes them easy to relate to? Heartwarming qualities such as kindness, sharing, and giving. Characters should embody emotions children see everyday.

The Problem

The kids in my son's class had a harder time indentifying the problem of the story when the teacher asked, but when she stated what it was, a lot of them said, "Oh, yeah!" The problem should be one the kids can understand. For example, frustration or loneliness. 

The Solution

The solution has to be something they can identify with. Examples include an act of kindness, sharing a toy, or even a smile.

Being a children's writer can be challenging, but hanging around children, reading to them, and even watching a children's show with them can help to give you the perspective needed to craft a special story they can relate to.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. She enjoys working with children at her church. Her books with 4RV Publishing include The Giving Meadow and First Flag of New Hampshire.









  1. Stephanie,

    Great need for volunteers in schools. I applaud you for your service.

  2. Making sure that younger children understand the components of a story is a good idea. Thanks for breaking those components down for us.

  3. Great advice to watch kids' reactions to books and shows that are designed for them--we might see a story as child-friendly and appealing, but kids wear their hearts on their sleeves and let it be known what they consider funny, babyish, cool or uncool.

  4. Linda, It's very time consuming, but very rewarding.

    Vivian, that's how Joe's teacher broke down the components of a story for the students. I thought it was brilliant, - so simple and easy for them to understand.

    Suzanne, Yes, that's spot on. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. When I would read them stories in the classroom, they reacted with laughter, frowns, and awwws.... I would suggest all childrens authors find opportunties to read to kids because it would give them a good gauge as to how to tailor their writing to appeal to them.