Stories for children: Editor's Notes, June 2003
Published: May 9, 2003
|Reading children's books out loud has to be one of the greatest delights a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher or friend of children experiences. Among the well-worn read-out-loud books on our shelves is a copy of Carl Sandburg's celebration of language, Rootabaga Stories, now enjoying a revival with our grandchildren. The words just slip off your tongue in this wistful, nonsensical collection of stories, in which a rag doll marries a broom handle, and they have a grand procession; a village of cream puffs floats up into the clouds; and the White Horse Girl and the Blue Wind Boy meet and ride off together.|
Underlying Sandburg's playfulness with words and his willingness to be utterly silly is a childlike wonder and longing. It's fun to read this book, and it's completely satisfying.
You can learn quite a bit about pacing, rhythm and the author's distinctive voice by reading children's books aloud. Yet there is one element that, when done well, is nearly indiscernible. It's the thing that keeps you turning the page. You might have charming, enduring characters and a super-charged plot, but without good transitions, your book will come to a complete halt. Using examples from some of the best children's-book authors, Laura Backes illustrates how to move your story along from scene to scene, chapter to chapter ("Give young readers a road map").
British author Tish Farrell reveals how she found her writing voice when she began crafting children's stories about a culture completely different from her own ("Out of Africa"). She shares what she learned about research, observation and storytelling.
James Cross Giblin, who has won numerous awards for his nonfiction, recounts the tale of his first novel as he made an obstacle-laden journey from editor to editor ("We love your manuscript, but ..."). The lesson: Believe in yourself.
We hope this special issue on children's writing will inspire and help you create stories that youngsters and adults will love to read again and again.