Writing Children’s Books:
Genre Differences Part OneBy Karen Cioffi
There are a number of genres within the children’s book arena. The target audience ranges from babies right on through to young adults. This provides a unique situation for writers to pick and choose a genre that feels comfortable to write in, while still remaining within the children’s book market.
Each genre is geared toward a specific age group and has its own set of rules and tricks.
Children’s Books: An overview of the different genres and a description of each:
Bedtime stories: These stories are simple and soothing. They are written to help lull little ones off to sleep and are in the form of picture books. The age group can be from newborn to five or six years of age.
An example of a bedtime story is Day’s End Lullaby by Karen Cioffi. The classic Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is another example of a bedtime story.
Board Books: Board books are simple picture books geared toward babies and toddlers. They are designed to hold up to a toddlers prying and pulling fingers. Board books can be black and white or very colorful. These books usually teach simple concepts, such as numbers from one to ten, days of the week, colors, and simple words.
An example of a classic baby board book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown is also a board book.
Picture books for the 2 - 5 year old group: These books are meant to be read aloud the child. Rather than simply concept themes, simple story lines can be written with short sentences and words. These books are for children in the ‘pre-reading’ stage and the word count can range from 100 - 500 words.
An example of a very young child’s picture book is The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.
Picture books for the 4 - 8 year old: This genre makes up most of the picture book market. These books are also meant to be read aloud to children, but the older child may read them by him/herself. The pictures will give a visual element for children learning to read, helping with the comprehension of the text. The wording and themes can be a bit more interesting, but still rather simple.
For the writer, in this genre you will need to use introduce ‘showing’ to create an engaging reading experience for the child. The average picture book is 32 pages and under 1000 words.
Two examples of picture books for this age group are Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Owen by Kevin Henkes.
Be sure to stop back on Sunday, April 21, for Part Two of Writing Children’s Books: Genre Differences. It’ll discuss Chapter, Middle Grade, and Young Adult books.
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