December 3, 2010

Observations for Children's Writing

Whip out your 'Child For a Day Sunglasses,' and see the world as a child does!

I observed a three year old boy with his mum at the library.
'No, not that one Mum. I want a scary story,' he said.
'No, not that one Mum. That's not scary.'
'Okay,' said Mum, shuffling through more books.

They looked through many more books and the young boy kept making the same request. I didn't see if he took any books home, but just watching him made me think that I should be observing children more to help me write for children. Children have an interest in books of a particular theme just like adults do. Many writers say that they use their own lives for inspiration, so it makes sense that if you're writing for children, to observe children in their own environment.

Watching children in all types of play, solitary, parallel, and groups, can help you create some fabulous picture book stories. So, how do adults learn what a child sees? Get down to their level. Crouch down if you have to. Don't go laying in the middle of the daycare centre floor. It could be pretty scary down there. Plus, you might get trampled on, dribbled on, and paint in your hair.

Watch how a child plays and interacts with their family and friends. Every child is individual and will provide you with some interesting characters and plots. A child throwing a tantrum might turn into a thunderous storm, or a group of boys building might turn into dinosaurs at play. A child lost at the supermarket might turn into a character scared of the dark, or a favourite toy might turn real and fly away to another land.

Here are some observations of children at play.

Blowing bubbles, playing hide and seek, mixing sand and water, building a tower to watch it fall down. Making and sending letters, dressing up and acting, jumping in muddy puddles, catching lizards, rescuing insects, playing board games, running in circles, spinning in circles, jumping on the bed, camping out, playing schools, holding hands, climbing trees, picking fruit, growing a garden, building a city with blocks and cars, making up their own silly songs. Painting their fingers and toes, getting things stuck in their hair, using sticky fingers, Making an inside cubby out of bedsheets, playing in cardboard boxes, dancing, playing in the rain, super hero powers, and torches at bedtime stories.

And that's just activities, what about emotions?

Happy, Silly, Funny, Cranky, Whinging, Sad, Scared, Brave, Jealous, Tired, Anxious, Frustrated, Mad, Angry, Giggly, Lonely, Bullied, Nervous, or Excited.

Here are some things that children might like to read about.
*Super Hero's
*Overcoming obstacles
*Escaping to a new world
*Princesses and Fairies
*Sea Animals
*Visiting the farm
*Routines- Eating, Bathing,
*Funny, quirky characters
*Characters with problems
*Happy Endings

So, take out your note book and write down your child observations. See if you can extend the story by exaggerating situations and emotions. Observing children, will help you write stories that children, (your target audience) can relate to and enjoy.
If you're willing and observant, you'll discover plenty of clues to living in a child's world.

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