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5 terrible, horrible, no good, very bad children’s book mistakes

Working on a book for young readers? Here’s what not to do.


Mistake #2: Preachiness

Misconception:  “As an adult, I have a lot more experience, and I know a lot more than my child readers know. I want to use my children’s book to teach children and to explain good behavior.”

No one likes being preached to, and kids, who are preached to enough already, really don’t like it. As with most readers, kids want books with strong characters and exciting plots. While the best children’s books usually have a theme or a message, that message is shown through the actions and reactions of the characters in response to the plot. In other words, through a good strong story.

Writers who believe that didacticism or writing down to kids has a place in their book should consider the words of the New Yorker writer E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web and other children’s classics: “Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick, and generally congenial readers on earth.” That was true when White wrote it, and it’s still true today.

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