Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Books About Writing For Children

As a fairly new children’s writer, I am always looking to improve my skills as a writer and as an effect of this, I have filled my shelves with books all about writing for children. Some of them I have read from cover to cover. Others have sat on the shelf gathering dust.

I thought I would share some of my insights on these books with you today. If you know of any others, or your opinions on these books differ from mine, why not leave a comment and let me know.

Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook published by A&C Black
Price - £12.99
If I were to recommend only one book, this is the book I would recommend and I would suggest you buy a copy every year, to get the most up-to-date information. It is probably the most important book, a writer for children in the UK, could possibly own. It contains lists of publishers, agents, societies, in fact everything you need to know about the world of children’s publishing. No, I have not read it from cover-to-cover but I am constantly dipping into it, especially before I submit anything.
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Write for Children by Andrew Melrose
Price - £14.99
This is an excellent book, written by a senior lecturer of the MA in Writing for Children at King Alfred’s University College in Winchester. I have read it from cover-to-cover and highlighted bits in bright pink highlighter pen. It is relevant for writing for children from birth to teenagers. I found the chapters on plotting both chapter books and picture books most beneficial. In fact, whilst I was flicking through to write this, I nearly started reading it again.
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Writing A Children’s Book by Pamela Cleaver
Price – £9.99
Another excellent book that I have highlighted and read from cover-to-cover. It is very easy and quick to read and contains information on preparing to write, plotting and planning, beginning, middles and ends and goes into editing and how to submit your manuscript.
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Ideas For Children’s Writing by Pamela Cleaver
Price - £9.99
This book supplements Pamela Cleaver’s other book, which I have listed above. It is an invaluable resource and it has proved a great asset when trying to find that hook, or niche, to place my own novels. There are writing exercises, ideas for characters that get you excited, tips on structuring and how to go about research. It is not the type of book that you would read from cover-to-cover but it is definitely a book for dipping.
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How To Write For Children and Get Published by Louise Jordan
Price – £9.99
Again, I have read this book from cover-to-cover and highlighted relevant bits. It is an ideal book for getting started and for helping to develop ideas, themes and you own writing style. Louise Jordan runs The Writers Advice Centre for Children's Books in London, UK and is also a reader for Penguin Children's Books. Well worth looking at, even if you get it from the library.
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Writing For Children and Getting Published by Allan Frewin Jones and Lesley Pollinger
Price – £7.99
The thing I liked about this book was all the writing exercises, specifically aimed at writers for children. If you are undecided, what age group you want to write for this is an ideal book as it gives you ideas to experiment in the different areas. Definitely, a book for the shelf but, if you do buy this book I recommend you buy it second-hand.
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How To Write For Children by Tessa Krailing
Price - £8.99
This book was one of the first books on writing for children I ever bought and yes, I have read it from cover-to-cover and highlighted it with my pretty pink highlighter pen but, it does not tell you anything new. Most of the content of this book is covered by the books above.
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Writing for Young Adults by Sherry Garland
Price – £9.99
An interesting book that covers more gritty areas that is useful if you were writing for teenagers. However, I was put off by the American slant. It is aimed at the beginner and others may find it more useful than I have.
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The Writer’s Handbook Guide to Writing for Children edited by Barry Turner
Price - £9.99
This book is not as helpful as I initially thought and although, I have read most of the articles, most of the information and more can be found in the W&A Yearbook, cited above. It is not worth buying second hand, as the listings go out of date.
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How To Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published edited by Treld Pelkey Bicknell and Felicity Trotman
Price – £11.48
Definitely, a book that would be more useful if I lived in America but, the information it contains on picture book writing is relevant wherever you live. It covers getting ideas, beginning the story, and planning and plotting. I think the chapters about illustrating, were fascinating and has given me an insight into structuring a picture book. The book is well worth a look.
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Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz
Price – £17.20
Unfortunately, this book has not been very helpful and is more for illustrators than writers. It explains how to set up a story board with dummy pictures and gives examples of planning a picture book with your illustrations but, when you bear in mind that most publishers prefer separate writers and authors it is more depressing than inspiring.
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How To Write for Children by Marion Hough
Price – £8.95
I’m afraid to say this is one of those books, which has sat on my shelf gathering dust. That is not to say it isn’t very good, as I haven’t even opened it to find out. I think maybe the problem is it is not a very inspiring book to look at. I suggest you make your own mind up and if you find it is good, let me know and I will make time to read it.
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You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracy E. Dils
Price -£8.99
Another book, which I haven’t even opened the front cover of, although this one looks more inspiring than the book above. It looks like it is orientated towards American writers, but don’t let that put you off. Again, if you’ve read this book and liked it, why not leave a comment and let me know.
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The Business of Writing for Children by Aaron Shepherd
Price - £7.50
This is the newest and latest addition to my bookshelf and sadly unopened. It is a print on demand book by a US author but, it looks pretty good and hopefully will not sit, gathering dust for too long.
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1 comment:

mumatwork said...

if you are writing middle grade to YA novels you could learn a lot from Solutions for Novelists by Sol Stein - though not specifically targetted at children's writers i've found it an indispensable resource