Children’s books are powerful.
Remember your favorite book from childhood? The one you read over and over. The one you loved?
It’s every writer’s dream, to create a book that stands the test of time … a timeless classic.
Every author wants to craft a story that appeals to thousands, and goes on and on and on to bring joy, wonder, and comfort.
• Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
• Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon
• E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web
These books are classics and contain magical ingredients that stand the test of time.
So what are the magical ingredients?
Tip #1. Immerse the reader in the story.
Create a totally immersive reader experience.
Award-winning author of children’s books Grumbler, Joyride, and Pling’s Party, Arielle Haughee is the owner of Orange Blossom Publishing, an editor, speaker, consultant, and Executive Vice President for the Florida Writers Association and this is what she recommends:
“Make sure each element blends together to make the story come alive for children in a magical way. Matching the physical elements of the book to the character and theme of your story creates excellent immersion for the reader.
“If you ensure everything on the inside and outside of the book is the best quality and shares a lasting message you will have a timeless children’s book.”
TIP #2. Get to the reader’s heart.
You’ve got to create an emotional connection. It you can reach the reader’s heart, you’ve made a forever connection.
Laura Backes is a Random House published author, editor, agent, educator, and the publisher of Children’s Book Insider, Children’s Writing Monthly, and co-founder of WritingBlueprints.com.
In the know, Backes gives her advice…
“Emotional connection. Create it with relatable and honestly crafted characters who participate in a story built upon universal emotions of childhood. Combine these with vivid settings, well-flowing dialogue and a warm author voice and you have the recipe for a classic.”
TIP #3. The protagonist has to be unforgettable.
Author Brooke Van Sickle has won multiple awards for her children’s books including the Moonbeam Children’s Award, the Royal & Purple Dragonfly Awards, and Mom’s Choice for honoring excellence in children’s books.
“Write a children’s book with a unique character. This is the key to creating a timeless book. With a great character, it doesn’t matter if you have a common plot because a compelling character will take the reader on a completely unique journey through new eyes. (Think: Harry Potter, The Cat in the Hat, The Little Engine That Could, etc.)”
TIP #4. Get to what kids really care about.
Middle Grade publisher and senior editor at Chicken Scratch Books, Kiri Jorgensen is also a writer, teacher, entrepreneur, wife and mother.
She adds to the advice…
“In the world of middle grade novels, a timeless story is characterized by connection. If a young reader devours a book while hiding under their covers with a flashlight, a connection has been made. If a young reader gasps, and pauses, and holds the book next to their heart for a moment before continuing, a connection has been made. If a young reader wakes up in the morning, worrying about the main character, a connection has been made.”
TIP #5. Choose a universal theme
You want to go with a theme that will stand the test of time.
Former literary agent and university professor Mira Reisberg is an award-winning author/illustrator, the acquiring editor and art director at Clearfork Publishing/Spork, and the founder of the Children’s Book Academy, an international children’s book writing and illustrating school.
“Relatability is another word for the underlying themes that relate to children’s lived experiences and curiosities according to their age level. By unearthing what the real themes below your story are about, you get to see if your story has universal underlying themes that will stand the test of time.
“Balance emotion and action so it’s not all emotion or all action. Action or movement keeps your story lively to avoid boredom and emotion keeps us engaged on a heart level.”
These are the five tips to a timeless story.
But how do you actually write it?
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