Masters tales

Writing for kids…

I have finished the adult novel. Well, I’ve finished the first draft and have started on the research for the next book. This one is for kids. I have written a couple of books for kids, but none have been published yet.

In fact, my dissertation for the masters was a kids book. Yet that hasn’t found a home. So this time, as I sat with my idea, I decided to start at the beginning – the age group. Okay, maybe I had some preconceived ideas about the age of the books. I mean I remember when I read…

Hold up! That won’t work. I didn’t learn to read until I was 11. I’ve got to do this research properly.

My dissertation is for ‘Middle Grade’ kids – so from 8 to 13 years. Except it isn’t.

This is what I found…

Children from 6-8 years old will read between 10,000 to 20,000 words. Some examples are:

  • The Enchanted Wood
  • Paddington
  • The Famous Five
  • BFG
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • The Worst Witch
  • Charlotte’s Web

At this point I’m panicking. My dissertation sits right in this group. If you had been there you would have seen me to a face plant. I wasn’t going to get it published because it was aimed at too old an age group. Duh! My book ought to be for 6-8 years.

The next age range, from 8 to 11 years, will read 30,000 to 60,000 words. And examples include:

  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase
  • Skellig
  • Artemis Fowl
  • The Witches
  • Matilda
  • TinTin
  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Goodnight Mister Tom
  • The Borrowers
  • Truckers
  • Swallows and Amazons
  • Harry Potter
  • Holes
  • The Hobbit

Some of these I would have thought were for older children, and my dissertation does not fit, in the least.

The teen group is from 11 to 14 years old. They will read between 30,000 to 70,000 words, and examples include:

  • Watership Down
  • The Boy in Striped Pyjamas
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Graveyard Book
  • Stormbreaker
  • Northern Lights
  • Ruby in the Smoke
  • The fellowship of the Ring

Okay, most of these I have read as an adult…

So, what have I learnt? Well, that kids are better at reading than I thought. That you have to be careful where you place your book and that you have to be aware that the age range you write for in your head, may not be the one you target to get it published.

Research! And then maybe you won’t end up like me, looking at six months of wasted time because you sent it to the wrong people with the wrong cover letter… Doh!

It’s an easy fix though, so maybe this time it might work. Everything is crossed. And the next project?

Well, that will be written for 6 to 8 year olds. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Writing for kids…

  1. Have you considered beta readers in the various age groups? See which ones are attracted to the writing, story line, etc? Probably need to target the parents to avoid problems.

    1. I have thought about giving the book to some kids to see if they like it, but I need to work out the age to give it to. I think I’m on the right track now, so I’ll see. Worth considering for the future though – thanks. (It needs a bit of a rewrite in order to bring the age of the leading character down).

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