4 tips for writing children's books on difficult subjects from Xulon Press, the largest Christian self-publisher.

4 Tips for Writing Children’s Books on Grown-Up Topics

advice on self-publishing and writing a children's book from Xulon Press, the largest self-publisher of Christian books.
4 Tips for Writing Children’s Books on Difficult Subjects

When many think of writing children’s books, images of talking animals communicating with awe-struck children come to mind. Many of these children’s stories aptly summarize the youthful whimsy of naivety, as the young protagonists are captivated by every angle of his or her growing experience. Some may even feel the role of children’s books would be to focus on the positive aspects of life, downplaying the harsh realities of daily unpleasantness. This is just one option and perspective of children’s literature. In editing and examining the assortment of children’s stories we come across, the need for children to be exposed to reality—the ease of bonding with friends, the comfort of growing up in a stable home with loving parents, to the pangs of an abusive parent—is necessary. Many books written for children serve to entertain a younger audience, but some are drafted to help children become aware of and even heal deeper wounds.

1) Balance. Balancing themes of trauma, death, divorce and depression with a childlike nostalgia can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. Children’s books written on disabilities or trauma (such as children who are the victims of abuse) are helpful teaching tools for younger children. These reinforce parents’ awareness of these topics, while providing younger readers with coping mechanisms. As a writer, this is a great space to be as honest as possible in describing children’s behavior—and also to be highly descriptive while transferring the lessons to a young audience.

2) Show-and-Tell. Using examples and subtle cues (e.g. body language gestures, tones in voice) are additional tools for painting emotions and imagery. Discussing mature content, like divorce, is a great example: inserting a child’s perspective can bridge the gap between younger and more mature audiences. What do the children think? How does the child internalize such change? How do the other onlooking children conceptualize this event? Answering these questions allow the author to speak for the child.

3) Neutralize. Providing Bible verses is another useful tool to reinforce young children, perhaps at the end of chapters for summary. Inputting calls to action, such as prompts for conversation or prayer can neutralize the harsh themes with kindness. Parents can use these elements for future teaching guideposts—they introduce critical thinking and connectivity to their children.

4) Keep It Real. Do remember to keep your vocabulary in alignment with your younger audience; describe any words they may not understand; provide examples, such as scriptures and gestures of kindness to encourage awareness; and lastly, honestly express the feelings the victimized child would have, as this creates an expression of reality with effective coping mechanisms for reader knowledge.

Do you have questions on writing children’s books? Comment below!


Krystina Murray is a Staff Editor at Xulon Press with over six years of editing experience. When she isn't helping writers improve their manuscripts, she devotes her time to crafting poetry and short stories, maintains an exciting food blog and completes copy writing advertisements for small businesses.

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