Why I Write for Kids

A couple of weeks ago a colleague at work asked me, "So when are you going to move up to writing adult books?" Surprisingly (or perhaps not for many of you writing in this world), it's a question I get asked far too often. My response is often much more passionate and involved than expected.

Writing for children is not a stepping stone to the "real" world of writing for adults. Children and young adults are my chosen audience. It's not second string or a Plan B. The bar is high and my readers are a picky crowd. Unlike adults, they simply won't keep reading if it doesn't keep their attention. The competition for time and attention in the world of today's children is fierce. If a writer can capture that attention, they've truly accomplished something miraculous. It's a challenge I try to meet with every word I put on the page.

Not only is the audience critical, but the ability to write what I want is also a big part of my choice. I love the artistic opportunity of choosing incredibly precious words for a picture book or the wide open span of topics that appeal to young adults. I also believe children's publishers are willing to experiment with creative formats and new voices in ways adult publishers are not.

I certainly hope adults read and enjoy my books. My focus, however, will be to continue to publish children's and young adult books. Who knows? Maybe some day I'll get to ask some famous adult writer, "So when are you going to move up and write for children?"


Thanks for this post! I write for a weekly newspaper, and I've had people tell me they hope our paper will someday be able to become a daily. That's not the same thing as what you're writing about, but your comments struck a chord in me.

YA/Children's novels are infinitely harder to write, especially for your target audience. I remember when I was younger, it had to really strike my fancy (sort of dating myself) for me to keep reading. I didn't understand the concept that it could get better over time. If it wasn't interesting in the beginning, it wasn't worth it. So I agree that writing for YA/Children is a valued standard - you want to succeed in catching a younger audiences attention, and when you finally do achieve it, it's pretty rewarding! Great post, thanks for sharing :)

I overheard someone at an adult writer's conference say: I can always switch to writing children's books, they're easier. Or, that was the gist of what they said. I was astounded. I wonder if they ever found out the truth.

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