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All About Kid Lit


Kid Lit is one of the largest and most widely read book categories. It encompasses everything from Easy Readers to young adult novels, tailored to the first 18+ years of our lives. For children, Kid Lit is both a mode of entertainment and education, keeping them occupied while shaping and developing their creative and intellectual abilities. But Kid Lit has much to offer readers and writers of all ages. Children’s themes of family, friendship, and coming of age are timeless and always worth revisiting. If you’re prone to nostalgic itches, you may find yourself returning to your childhood favorites, but an even better way to reminisce is by writing new ones. Explore your inner child through writing in the world of Kid Lit!


Let’s break it down, shall we?

For some, your days of reading Kid Lit are in the past, so it can be helpful to refresh your mind on some of the different subsets of the category and what ages are drawn to them.


Picture books: Parents will read these to children starting at birth, but kids will learn to read them with assistance and eventually on their own usually starting in kindergarten.


Chapter books: These are your big series like The Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones. They’re episodic, like TV shows, usually for elementary school aged kids. They typically follow a main character through various problems and adventures, using a similar narrative structure for each book.


Middle Grade: Not quite Young Adult yet, these are larger chapter books, usually with more complex narratives that deal with relatable issues for pre-teens; your Percy Jackson and what have you.


Young adult novels: Usually intended for high school age, but tend to be read by readers both younger and older than this, typically spanning middle school through college aged (and sometimes beyond, because, let’s face it, everyone loves a good YA now and then). There are your big blockbusters like The Hunger Games or romances like The Fault in Our Stars, to mysteries like We Were Liars—there’s something for everyone.


The sky’s the limit

Even though Kit Lit is split by age group, you’re never limited by genre. In fact, it might be easier to explore sci-fi and fantasy worlds by writing YA and middle grade level books than by writing adult novels. We always talk about kids and their wild imaginations; you may find that young audiences have a deeper appreciation for niche and fantastical subjects. Realistic fiction is another popular Kid Lit genre. Kids of all ages are drawn to real life themes and issues that relate to them and what they’re currently dealing with.



All this means, though, is that you need to have an idea of what kids are interested in, which can be tricky at times. With the rise of technology and social media, it seems that trends ebb and flow faster and faster now. Some jobs are dedicated entirely to collecting data on what kids like and creating the most enticing media for them, as well as marketing it to them to maximize profits, which is, well, icky. The best way to find out what kids like is to spend time with some. Whether it’s a young cousin, niece or nephew, your friend’s kids or your own, they’ll love gushing over their favorite book or movie if you ask them about it.


And don’t be afraid to tap into your past childhood self. Remember what books you loved growing up, what genres and themes you were most drawn to. And even more importantly, think about what you were missing from those books as a kid. What did you wish someone told you when you were growing up? What kinds of characters did you wish to see flourishing on the page?


Some tips to get you going


Protagonists: We all like to relate to the main characters of the books we read, but protagonists often double as role models for kids. You won’t be able to write a character that is super relatable to every kid, but they should have some likeable traits for readers to latch onto. And just because you’re writing for kids, don’t be afraid to give your characters flaws. Kids are human just like the rest of us, and it’s important to see characters fail and try again.


Themes: Children’s books are simpler than adult fiction, both narratively and thematically. It can be helpful to map out your central theme so you can make it clear and understandable in your story. Consistent themes create a narrative that is easy to follow for young readers. Consider fairy tales: they often teach a “lesson” to the reader, like The Boy Who Cried Wolf. It doesn’t have to be as on the nose as that, of course!

 

About the Author: Lindsey is currently working towards her BA in English and Creative Writing at Brandeis University. She loves writing short stories and has more recently taken an interest in writing poetry. She is also an Editor-in-Chief for her school literary magazine, Laurel Moon. You can usually find her reading, crocheting, watching Marvel movies, or bothering her cat, Sister. She hopes to be a writer and an editor in the future to continue to help others improve their work.

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Liam Patrikson
Aug 12, 2022

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