Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Writing Re-told Bible Stories for Kids

I love writing retold Bible stories for young children. The Bible is filled with adventure! Story after story can be re-told with action and dialog, making the Bible come alive for kids. As a Believer, I know the Bible is certainly non-fiction material, and a never-ending source of inspiration for the Christian children’s writer.

Several years ago I wrote a series of three stories for a popular Christian children’s magazine for kids ages 4 to 8. These were stories about the inspiring and in-suppressible Paul...my Bible hero. The first story was titled, Shipwrecked!

Open a Bible and turn to chapters 27 & 28 in the book of Acts. You’ll read about Paul's harrowing adventure. I wanted kids ages 4 to 8 to “experience” just a portion of this story through action and dialog.

The following are short excerpts from Shipwrecked:

CRASH! Paul bolted upright. A monstrous wave had struck the ship! The sky was black and an icy rain pelted the prisoners and guards. Mighty winds tossed the ship from side to side. Wave after giant wave thundered and crashed over the wooden vessel.
"Help us!" the prisoners cried. "We're going to die!"
"I can't control the ship!" the Captain yelled.
"Throw everything overboard!" the guards shouted above the roar of the winds. “We must lighten the load or we'll sink!"

Here's another excerpt:

“Land! I see land!" shouted the Captain. The relieved men cheered and rowed for shore. But no one saw the danger ahead...jagged rocks beneath the dark waters.
SMASH! The ship splintered against the knife-sharp rocks. The waves beat against the broken vessel as the rocks tore it to pieces.
“Jump for your lives and swim for the island!” a guard shouted. “Every man for himself!”
Paul leaped into the water and held onto a piece of broken wood. He kicked his numb feet and headed toward the island along with the others. I know God has a plan, even in this freezing
wa-wa-water he thought.
Before long, Paul felt strong arms pull his weakened body onto the sandy beach. He looked up through salt-stung eyes into the friendly face of an islander.

Non-fiction resources are unlimited! If you haven’t tried writing for this genre you’re missing out on a publishing door that’s still WIDE OPEN for new talent! Go ahead...show children that life can be more exciting than fiction!

c 2008 Sheryl Crawford

Monday, September 21, 2009

Keeping up With Kids...a Necessity!

Thinking back to memorable moments in your childhood can certainly trigger ideas for stories, but that isn't enough if you hope write for the children's market today. Keeping up with kids is a necessity. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Read newspapers and collect clippings of stories about, or that apply to kids. These can be great idea sparkers!
  • Read children's magazines. Libraries and bookstores provide a good selection. You'll learn about trends and topics that interest kids today. I subscribe to a magazine that I frequently write for.
  • Explore websites geared for children on books, science, nature, etc. Fascinating!
  • Talk with teachers and librarians. They know what kids are reading and asking for. Ask a teacher if you can be quiet observer in class.
  • Spend time with kids---not just your own or your grandchildren. There are often volunteer opportunities in a community which allow you to work with children. Visit a park, mall, bookstore, zoo, or theme park. Watch kids interact. It's a kick!
  • Watch television programs geared for the age you want to write for. You're never too old to watch children's programming like cartoons and Sesame Street. FUN!
  • Visit websites created by children's book authors. They seem to be innumerable!
  • Read the announcement issues of Publishers Weekly. These special issues come out twice a year. Ask a bookstore employee when they expect to have them. These issues give reviews about upcoming children's books. You'll also read about changes in the publishing industry. Here are more trade magazines recommended for children's book authors:
    • Horn Book Magazine [6 issues annually]
    • School Library Journal
    • Children's Literature Review
    • Booklist [22 issues annually]
    • Five Owls [a quarterly publication]
    • Kidscreen [about reaching kids through entertainment]
  • I HIGHLY recommend subscribing to The Children's Writer. It's not an expensive subscription. It will teach you and list publishing opportunities. Join the SCBWI [Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.]
  • Read, read, read, and never stop reading CURRENT children's books. Sure, enjoy the classics but be familiar with what's being published NOW.
Admit it. If you write for children then you never really grew up. That means keeping up with kids won't be that tough---just a whole lot of FUN!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Poetry That Allows the Blind to “See”

Mary O’Neill’s poetry nearly takes my breath away. In her book Adventures in Color: Hailstones and Halibut Bones, the descriptions of the spectrum of color allow the reader to truly “experience” color with all the senses.

Here’s an amazing fact—this book of poetry continues to be a favorite for those who are BLIND! Mary’s magnificent poems allow the blind to “see” color, and has become a modern children’s classic. She has received hundreds of letters from blind children around the world. Colleges, librarians, grade school and high school teachers continue to use Hailstones and Halibut Bones in their classrooms as an example of poetry perfection.

Do something nice for yourself, pick up the NEWER edition by Doubleday (1989) illustrated by the phenomenal John Walner. His illustrations are lavish and rich—then get ready to experience poetry as you’ve never experienced it before!