Writing for children is a lot of fun! They make some of the best and most loyal fans and their ability to imagine themselves inside a story is incredible. But how do you make your story stand out? We have come up with five top tips for capturing the attention of young readers.

  1. Immerse yourself in the genre

If you’re writing for children, you should also be reading for children! It’s all about knowing your audience. Go to your local library, your local bookshops, your child’s bookshelf and read read read books that have come out recently; not only the classics. Look at the bestsellers list! Watch kids TV. Find out what is making people excited and channel it into your work.

  1. Think of your word count

There are an increasing number of longer children’s books, but this does not mean a liberal word count will help you. Books above 60k in the Middle Grade market can be harder to sell because they are harder to translate, more costly produce and they might intimidate younger readers. Whilst kids are some of the most loyal readers, they’re also some of the most easily lost with shorter attention spans, so pace is important. If writing a longer book is important to you, consider writing for an older audience, or making an agent aware of this in your query letter.

  1. Relatable characters

Representation is important no matter what you are writing, but particularly in children’s books it’s important to create characters that reflect the world around us. Make sure your book is as diverse as the world we live in. Similarly let your characters have flaws and be nuanced! It can be boring to read about a character who has no trouble saving the day.

  1. Don’t be afraid to tackle big topics

Children, much like adults, also experience the more difficult side of life and while books are such a wonderful escape, they’re often successful when they deal with a bigger topic such as grief or loneliness. Some of the most magical children’s books explore some deep complex themes and have reached a huge audience through engaging with the darker parts of growing up.

  1. Have fun!

Don’t overthink it! Have fun, make magic (or not!) and let your imagination run wild. The Middle Grade market is home to some of the most inventive and exciting heroes in the literary world! At the end of the day, to keep your readers attention it’s important to spark their imagination, so don’t be afraid to take your characters to wild and wonderful places. Slay dragons! Fight witches! Rule the playground! Storm the castle!