As a reviewer I am happy to say that few genres of books give me pleasure like a children’s book. Most people think that it is an easy task, it is anything but. It is far more complex than slapping a few words on some pictures.
A child’s book is a difficult project to pull off.
There are so many moving parts involved. This is one genre where the owner is not the buyer, they are bought by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.
Rule # 1, find the age group you want to talk to. What works for a four year old will crash and burn with a six year old.
Rule #2, there must be a learning story to be told. It can be difficult to tell a complex story in a few words. But that is the mission!
Rule #3, use words that fit into the age group you are aiming at. If you are going to introduce a word that likely is outside of the vocabulary of the reader offer a definition in simple to understand terms.
Rule #4, illustrations, excuse the pun, are an art form. They need to fit the age group you are talking to. What works for a 6 year old does not work for an 8 year old. The general rule is, the younger the reader the brighter, bolder and simplistic the illustrations should be.
Rule #5, Fonts, this is a very complex subject, in fact one worthy of a book all by itself. Young readers need easy to read fonts. Broadly speaking fonts fall into two categories, Serif and Sans Serif. Serif fonts are angular and business like while Sans Serif are rounded and friendly. When was the last time you saw a legal paper in anything other than Times New Roman? It is a font designed to intimidate. If you check your junk snail mail flyers, you will find that the font is almost always a Sans Serif one, they want to lure you in.
Keep to a Sans Serif font, but keep it simple. There are a number of fonts that embellish certain letters, for some reason ‘g’ is a favorite for abuse.
Rule #6, Font Size, the smaller the child, the bigger the font size.
Rule #7, All things paper. Young minds tend to be tough on their toys. Your book is about to enter a battlefield. Give serious thought to the paper, binding and cover. Make it resilient to young hands.
Rule #8, Most young children do not buy their own books. Adults do the purchasing. This is tricky, you must appeal to the adult, while also creating content that a young child will enjoy.
Rule #9, The dreaded ‘M’ word, marketing. Book signings and readings are a great start, but keep in mind rule #8. Appeal to the adults as much as you do to the children.
Rule #10, Ignore the other rules and have fun. Many authors that I have talked to created books for their Grandchildren or other family member.