two little girls and little boy in a tent decorated with fairy lights and reading a children's book; how to write a children's book
Children's Book - Young Adult

How to Write a Children’s Book

Writing a children’s book may be the most fun a writer can have, but there’s a lot more planning and research that goes into children’s books than you might think. From deciding on your reading audience to making the story age-appropriate and dialing in your story to the right Flesch-Kincaid reading level, we’re covering everything in this article that you need to know about writing a great children’s book.

There are five things every children’s book writer should keep in mind:

1. Decide On the Audience for Your Children’s Book

Sometimes the book idea comes first, and the idea will dictate your reading audience. Other times, you’ll need to decide on your target audience first. Are you writing a picture book that will be read aloud to babies or toddlers? Maybe you decide to write a picture book elementary school children can read to themselves. Each age group has different needs and interests, so it’s important to keep this in mind as you write.

2. Make the Story Age-Appropriate

Once you’ve decided on your audience, make sure that the story you’re telling is age-appropriate for them. Younger kids might not be ready for complex themes or hard to read words, while older kids may think simpler stories boring. Make sure the story you’re telling fits the intended age group of your book.

3. Use the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level is a tool that helps you determine the reading level of your book. Flesch-Kincaid considers sentence length, word choice, and other factors to give you a score that indicates what grade level your book is suitable for. Make sure that your book’s reading level matches your target audience.

4. Follow Standard Word Counts

Children’s books come in many shapes and sizes, but there are some general parameters to follow regarding word count. Here are the standard word count ranges to keep in mind for picture books, early readers, chapter books and more:

Children’s Books

  • Picture Books: up to 500 words
  • Early Readers: 1,000­­–­2,500 words
  • Chapter Books: 4,000–10,000 words

Middle Grade Chapter Books

  • 20,000–50,000 words

Young Adult (YA) Books

  • 55,000–80,000 words

Make sure that your book’s word count is in the range for its intended audience.

5. Use an Illustrator for Picture Books

If you’re writing a picture book, work with a professional illustrator to bring your story to life. A great artist can use illustrations to add emotion and depth to your story. Be sure to choose an illustrator who shares your vision for your book and has an artistic style that complements your story.

Originally published September 8, 2023.

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Erika Bennett is the Content Manager for Xulon Press. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade and her passion is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands. You can also find her writing on

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