Tap into the school market by learning about state and national standards
ONLINE COLUMN: Writing for Children
Published: October 13, 2009
|Q: What are the state and national standards in education, and why should children's writers know about them?|
If you've never heard of the state and national standards, it's important to become familiar with them if you want to write for children. These standards are educational topics and concepts that teachers are required to teach and children are expected to learn. Each state has its own approved state standards and there are national standards as well. If you hope to build a career as a children's writer, it's important to know that your book sales will increase if educators can purchase a title for classroom use or assign students to read it as part of their grade-level curriculum requirements. Nancy I. Sanders
To learn more about state and national standards, visit www.educationworld.com/standards. There are standards from kindergarten through 12th grade and they are divided into categories, including fine arts, language arts, math, physical education and health, science, social studies, and technology. Within each category, there may be subdivisions.
At first glance, state and national standards can seem daunting. To help you get a better grasp of what these standards mean and how they apply to classroom use, visit your local school district. Ask for a copy of the school standards. These are often written in a language that's easier to understand and often include a breakdown of ways to incorporate the standards into the classroom. Reading through a copy of your local school standards can help you brainstorm ideas for topics to write about.
The educational market is a viable market for children's writers to explore. Many publishers in this market do not advertise their contact information in general writers' market guides. Why? Because they often don't want to work with beginning writers. They want experienced writers who know how to write, who are familiar with the state and national standards, and who are eager to write manuscripts geared specifically for classroom use.
A full range of publishers both large and small can be found operating in the educational market. Some have work-for-hire opportunities and some offer royalty contracts. Publishers such as Scholastic Teaching Resources, Corwin Press and Libraries Unlimited offer a variety of books and products for teachers and educators to purchase. Prolific author and educator Evelyn B. Christensen has compiled a comprehensive list of publishers in the educational market at http://echristensen.atspace.com/markets.html.
While you build your career as a children's writer and establish a relationship with various editors, aim your sights on the cutting edge in the educational market. Develop a relationship with local schools and teachers. Keep an ear open for new standards and regulations they're required to follow. Interview educators to learn cutting-edge topics or noteworthy news and current events for which they're lacking resources. Then pitch ideas to your editors for magazine articles, nonfiction books, picture books, beginning readers, chapter books, or middle-grade and young-adult novels that will fill this gap.
|Nancy I. Sanders|
Nancy I. Sanders is the author of the groundbreaking new book for children's writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children's Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. Web: www.nancyisanders.com.
--Posted Oct. 13, 2009