If You Write for Children or Youths...



I admit I’m all over the place with my writing. However, I rarely get bored in life and that might be attributed to my inability to focus--without the struggle. I playfully call it chasing butterflies, but it could be undiagnosed adult ADD. Who knows?

I like writing for kids, maybe because I'm a mom or because I work with kids or maybe because I'm a kid at heart. Kids are an interesting bunch of people, with the different life stages giving you various behaviors. One minute the kids in your life will demand to be left alone to do their own thing and the next will be asking for your help. Sometimes you are from outer space and other times a best friend.


The most difficult population for me to write about (and maybe to understand) are the middle graders. So I looked to the internet for enlightenment.


Here are four helps: 
  1. Read middle grade books. You will find it educational and fun. Try J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Lois Lowry or Patricia Reilly Giff. Read and study. 
  2. How to Write a Middle Grade Novel anyone? This is literally the title of Jenny Bowman’s article. She defines the MG novel and explains the format of both lower and upper MG writing and much more. She also tells us why a MG novel is so popular and who reads it. (You might find adult readership mixed in there.)
  3. Observation! If you live, work or visit with middle school aged kiddos, then learn from it! They're exhausting, funny and wonderful. 
  4. Pull from your inner child. You were a kid once. Trust me! You might think that kids are different these days from your time as a child, but not really. They have the same basic problems. Although plenty of adults have argued this point with me on the "Kids are different today than in my day" theme. I argue that kids aren't as different as you might think. Times have changed for sure. Ideas of parenting has changed. There is "new" technology beyond television and radio, but kids are more like the kids in your day than you might imagine. They still seek love, have basic needs and behaviors as previous generations. In my twenty eight years working in a school district I have concluded that all children and youths: 1) need to be loved and taken care of;  2)  have friends who are more important to them (at the time) than their family. It's normal, and it's okay; 3) REALLY want to be liked and accepted by their peers and valued by their parents and to be told this; and finally,  4) middle-schoolers eat a lot and are always hungry.
During my teenaged years we didn't have video games, but there were adults that thought a deck of cards was evil. There were adults back then that didn't understand why we said cool and groovy or why we listened to loud music that included Led Zeppelin or The Eagles. They didn't understand my short skirts or my bellbottomed jeans. Every long haired dude that I knew had adults in their life who criticized their long locks.


Lastly, here's a cool article on teens: How do today’s teens compare with teens from the 1970’s? I can tell you that the teens from the 1970s were way cooler.

 

T.




Confess! Do you still read genres meant for a certain age group? Do you think kids today are totally different than yesterday's kids? Did you have an experience where an adult questioned something you did as a child or teen?

Comments

  1. Groovy!
    Never written a middle grade story but I did have a character that age in one of my books. I had to draw on my inner child for that one.

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    1. As I TRY to write poetry I mostly write about what have happened in my or family's life.
      It must be very rewarding to write for children and to get children interesting in reading.

      Yvonne.

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  2. I refuse to limit my reading to genres or age groups. Neil Gaiman is one of my writing heroes.
    And my inner child is frequently the healthiest and happiest part of me.

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  3. As a teacher, I've read a ton of MG books - they're so much fun! I like the way they reflect the growing senses of self & humour & independence & 'how I fit in' & environmental/cultural/racial awareness that the kids are experiencing!

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  4. Hi, I've taught 5's to 11's for a great deal of my life, and enjoyed every minute of it. Miss teaching very much, and for the last ten years have been writing fiction for the 9 to 11's. Having spent years with them I am able to write in first person, so have virtually spent hours writing my novels as a ten year old boy or girl. It has been a challenge, especially when I move into the Anglo Saxon period or the Victorian period and have to make the language believable for the age range and also sound authentic. But it is rewarding as you say, and especially good to know that many of my pupils, inspired by my enthusiasms, have gone on to be teachers themselves, with a shared love of reading and
    poetry.

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  5. Hi Teresa - love the phrase 'chasing butterflies' I might just adopt it - I am definitely all over the place - though 'tis my brain wanting to do so much. I do lots of reading - but am really not good with a whole book - could be if I wasn't blogging et al. I'm very occupied and fully so ... and really would just love to settle to read - but usually pull pen and pencil out at the same time. I'll chase my own butterflies! Good luck with yours and thanks for the tips - cheers Hilary

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  6. Thank you for writing about this genre! As a retired elem. teacher, I have loved children books for all of those years. Art is usually outstanding and the writing is delightful. These books take children to young adult to adult readers.

    I really appreciate this post.

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  7. Let that inner child fly free and can sure have some fun with kids books.

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  8. I truly enjoy reading middle grade books, and I have started to write them. I have one completed already. :)

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  9. I enjoyed this so much, Teresa! Your reference to "chasing butterflies" made me smile. It's wonderful and a great way to live, I might add. I came to the realization when I was 61 or 62 that I had likely been dealing with ADHD all my life, rather ironic as I was very successful with ADHD students throughout my teaching career, but didn't recognize the same qualities in me. I shared this with my siblings, and they all burst out laughing and revealed that their secret nickname for me was "The ADHD One." However, my brother frequently calls me "my beautiful butterfly," because he says I flit from flower to flower tasting all the nectars life has to offer. I enjoy good books, no matter what age they were written for. Some of the most brilliant writing is in children's books. Have a great weekend!

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