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Six Things I Learned From Writing Children’s Books

Welcome to today’s Indie Lights Book Parade author, Leslie C. Halpern and her guest post, Six Things I Learned From Writing Children’s Books.

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Award-winning poet Leslie C. Halpern wrote her Funny Children’s Poems book series to educate and entertain early readers, ages 5-9. The series includes Frogs, Hogs, Puppy Dogs: Funny Children’s Poems About Animal Friends (2014), Shakes, Cakes, Frosted Flakes: Funny Children’s Poems About Table Manners (2013), and Rub, Scrub, Clean the Tub: Funny Children’s Poems About Self-Image (2012), all published by Cricket Cottage Publishing and illustrated with whimsical watercolor paintings by Oral Nussbaum. Told from a child’s perspective, Frogs, Hogs, Puppy Dogs takes a light-hearted look at our relationships with house pets and zoo animals; Shakes, Cakes, Frosted Flakes humorously studies eating habits, nutrition, and etiquette; and Rub, Scrub, Clean the Tub provides a child’s distorted view of personal hygiene, interpersonal relationships, and self-image. All three books in the Funny Children’s Poems series include parent-teacher resource pages with challenging questions, fun games, and glossaries of unfamiliar words. Find Leslie’s children’s books and adult nonfiction books about the entertainment industry at www.Amazon.com , on her website at www.LeslieHalpern.com, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/funnychildrenspoems.

Six Things I Learned From Writing Children’s Books

1. Humor is less subjective with children than with adults.

Body functions, body parts, vegetables, animals behaving like humans, kids knowing more than adults, and anything that stinks usually get laughs from children. While adults have a lifetime of teachers, parents, and partners censoring their humor, young children know what amuses them and have no qualms about laughing out loud. The trick is finding the balance where the subject matter is funny enough to interest young children while still teaching them some kind of lesson. Adults sometimes lose themselves in funny children’s books as they let their “inner child” giggle along with the kids.

2. Children don’t fear poetry, parents do.

When parents don’t expose their children to age-appropriate poetry while they’re young, they miss the opportunity to develop life-long poetry lovers. If the poetry is too advanced or too serious for early readers, or the parents project their own lack of appreciation for poetry, they doom their children to a built-in prejudice against one of the most creative forms of written expression. Many people fear poems because they don’t understand them, and therefore feel dumb when they can’t speak the language of poetry. Learning about rhyme, rhythm, metaphor, simile, and other literary devices at an early age will give children an advantage throughout their entire lives.

3. Reading challenges must be age-appropriate to build self-esteem.

Parents and authors share the responsibility on this one. Books should clearly state the reading level on the cover, and parents and teachers need to direct children to age-appropriate books. As the writer, use mostly familiar words, although it’s fine to challenge readers a little if the context helps define the word. Include a glossary in the back if the book includes several words that might be unfamiliar. Reading ability in children varies greatly depending upon their exposure to books, parental support, and language skills. As the parent or teacher, be aware of the level at which the child is reading and find subject matter, writing style, and artwork that make the readers stretch a little to help build self-esteem. If the material is too advanced for the reader, they feel frustrated; if the material is too basic, they grow bored. That’s why age-appropriate (emotional age, intellectual age, and chronological age) are so important with your readers.

4. Gadgets, toys, and musical instruments bring poetry alive for children.

I include many literary devices, such as onamonapia, rhyme, and alliteration in my poetry for children (ages 5-9), and take full advantage of these when reading poetry aloud for an audience. However, even with an animated voice and colorful pictures, my readings and other presentations are often enhanced by props. For example, in Rub, Scrub, Clean the Tub: Funny Children’s Poems About Self-Image, several of the poems and illustrations include yellow rubber ducks. I include a variety of ducks when I read from this book including wind-ups, pull-strings, squeakers, and quackers that never fail to elicit giggles from the audience.

5. Artwork is often more important than the text.

As a writer, it hurts to say this, but the graphic design and artwork are the primary motivators when people buy children’s books. No matter how much they like the subject matter and text, if the artwork isn’t fun, colorful, or interesting, people don’t buy the book for children. Illustrations need not be masterful; it’s a question of reader engagement rather than artistic skill. Unless you have the ability to write and illustrate, hire an artist to provide illustrations that will capture children’s imaginations and make them curious about the text.

6. Don’t stereotype your customers.

When I first starting writing the Funny Children’s Poems book series, I assumed the primary market would be 20-something parents and 50-something grandparents shopping for young children. I soon learned people in their 20s, 30s and 40s sometimes have young children, and grandparents also come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. In addition, aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, brothers, sisters, friends, and teachers buy children’s books. Other people who might be interested in buying (or displaying free copies) include doctors, dentists, child psychologists, and other professionals who have children visiting their waiting rooms.

halpernAward-winning poet Leslie C. Halpern has a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. In addition to children’s books, she writes nonfiction books about the entertainment industry for adults, and reviews books and movies for several online publications. Find out more about her at www.LeslieHalpern.com and www.facebook.com/LeslieCHalpern.

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Meet Authors Amelia Picklewiggle and PA Cadaver and their books!

10647113_10204090549798878_2198516516563326284_nAmelia Picklewiggle is a husband and wife writing team who also write as young adult/middle grade author PA Cadaver. She is the Ambassador for the state of Nevada for Board on Books for Young Readers, a guest Judge for PBS where she was the first author in the history of the KIDS GO contest to present awards. Amelia is a member of many organizations for children’s literacy programs, including RIF, Reading Rockets, AIA, Autism Society, American Library Association, SCBWI and many more.

10154951_10204121449531352_7968137167920721889_nAmelia Picklewiggle is represented by a leading US Licensing Agency. ALL books, characters are protected under the Federal Trade Mark Law. All Trademarked materials include: The Wrinklettes World of Wonder series, Rusty and Ruby’s Magical Reading Room series, The Snow Bunny Science Sleuths Series, Monster Madness Word War series, Witch~o~ween, The Fractured Fairytale Theater series, Halloween Town series, Lone Huntress series, Mouse in the House series, Franken Cookie, Elliot the Magical Puppy series, Tessa’s Troubles series, Scruff the Mutt in GROOMINGDALES and more!

Amelia is a retired teacher and an instructor for a college.

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PA Cadaver writes: Ghost Tales Mystery Series™, Scary Tale Theater series™, Monsterpiece Theater series™, and SPOOKTACULAR series™.

Amelia Picklewiggle and PA Cadaver books can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.Their books are available in print, digital and Braille.They are also available in public libraries and school libraries throughout the United States.

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Andrew, the “A” in Amelia, has been actively writing since he was nineteen. His beliefs about equality, libertarianism, and personal potential lend his works direction and endings that often quite differ from the formulae seen in most other literary works. Andrew has studied and experienced a wide range of pursuits, ranging from courses in emergency medical procedures to several decades of training in martial arts styles from around the globe, to baking and sushi making. He is currently an amateur mui thai kick boxer hoping to go professional (in the ring or in the NHB cage depending).

Learn more about Amelia Picklewiggle online at

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Buy Tessa’s Troubles on Amazon. Other books by Amelia Picklewiggle also available on Amazon.

You can find PA Cadaver’s books on Amazon.