Book Review: Writing Children’s Books

Writing Children’s Books:  Everything You Need To Know From Story Creation To Getting Published, by Anthony D. Fredericks

This book thoughtfully addresses one of the most consistently misunderstood aspects of creation, and that is the way that writing shorter works is often more difficult than writing longer ones.  This author, like many who write guides, is engaged in a subtle and ambivalent task.  On the one hand, he is seeking to encourage others to write but on the other hand he wants to disabuse others of notions of quick wealth or the ease of writing for children.  On the one hand he wants to encourage the reader to think of him as someone with a great deal of expertise in writing but on the other hand he is not a particularly well-known or immensely successful writer.  Indeed, I think it can be safely said that the author’s most notable works are his works about writing and teaching, rather than his nature-based children’s works which are much less common.  It is interesting, to be sure, that someone can be more famous for writing about writing than for writing in the first place, even if one has to write a good deal to be able to provide others with expertise.

This book is about 300 pages long and is divided into several parts and 21 chapters.  The book begins with some information about the author, acknowledgements, a foreword, and an introduction.  After that the author starts with basics about whether someone is ready to write for children (1), some myths and truths (2), as well as an exhortation to take being an author seriously (3).  After that comes a discussion about the facts of life including a major mistake people make in not reading children’s books while trying to write them (4), other common errors (5), and what makes a good book (6).  The author discusses ideas by giving lots of writing prompts (7), discusses how to generate more ideas (8), and look for ideas in the world around (9).  The author discusses children’s books and the writing process with a look at genres and formats (10), beginning one’s book (11), revision (12), and formatting a manuscript (13).  The author then gives some advice on how to find the right publisher (14), submit one’s manuscript (15), whether or not one should get an agent (16), and the option of self-publishing (17).  Finally, the author ends with a reality check that discusses what editors think (18), rejection (19), the economics of writing children’s books (20), and becoming a successful children’s author (21), after which there is a postscript, some sources and resources, and an index.

By and large, even if the author is not particularly well-known or successful as a children’s author, this is certainly a book that is born out of the author’s own experiences and it has a high degree of credibility as a result.  If the author somewhat overestimates the savvy nature of children themselves as readers, he certainly has a grasp of what it takes to write successfully concerning the need to appeal to parents and teachers and librarians who provide works for young readers, and it is pretty evident that he at least has the goods when it comes to appealing to the gatekeepers of reading for children in science and social science.  A lot of the advice the author has to provide are good ones, especially when it comes to making one’s writing a daily habit, getting into the habit of editing and revising, which is certainly hard for some of us to manage, and managing to read and follow the instructions for publisher submissions so as not to disqualify oneself from the start.  If the author is not quite as much of a bestseller as he might hope, the book is certainly very useful for those who need every bit of help they can get to write and publish for that small but welcome side benefit of being a published author.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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