Writing for children comes in many flavors or, as we writers call them, genres. In case you are a bit confused about the many types of children’s writing, let’s take a brief look at them.
When people think of children’s writing, they usually think first of picture books. Picture books form a large segment of children’s literature. What is a picture book? Basically, a picture book is a book in which the pictures do a big part of telling the story. Picture books can be further divided into books for various age groups: the Baby Picture Book (under age one), the Toddler Picture Book (ages 1-3), and the Early Picture Book (ages 4-8).
Picture books can be fiction or non-fiction. They usually run 32 pages in length with a word count of anywhere from 300-1500 words (usually on the higher end for non-fiction). The average length of most current picture books is 300-800 words because most publishers today usually prefer this length.
These books are geared to children who are just starting to read on their own, usually from ages 6-8. Also called “easy-to-read” books, easy readers run from 32 to 64 pages and usually have a word count of 200 to 2000 words, with a lower word count offering a better chance of publication.
Chapter BooksWritten for the 7-10 age group, these books are usually 45-60 pages in length and are divided into short chapters of about 3 to 4 pages each. The chapter divisions make young readers feel as though they are reading a “real” book.
Readers of middle-grade books are from 8-12 years old. This age group is often called the “Golden Age of Readers” because reading holds high interest for this age group compared to children of other ages. Middle-grade books run anywhere from 100-150 pages and are often written in series. Children of this age readily identify with a main character. If you can create an engaging character that captures the hearts and minds of the middle-grade child, you may have a series on your hands. 🙂
Young Adult (YA)
Young adult readers include children from 12 to 18. Books for this age group run from 25,000 to 50,000 words and are more complex. Within the YA genre, a sub-genre targeted to 10-14 year-olds is becoming popular. Books for this age group are sometimes called “Tweener” books because they are written for those between later childhood and the early teen years.
Wherever your interest lies, you can find markets for your writing. If you’re not sure which genre is best for you, try your hand at all of them and discover which one best fits your writing style and interests.