6 Steps to Get Started Writing a Children’s Book

 6 Steps to Get Started Writing a Children’s Book

An outline of children playing

Children’s author and SCS instructor Nadia Hohn shares tips to get inspired, bust through barriers, and get writing that children’s book you’ve always wanted to share!

Children’s author and SCS instructor Nadia Hohn shares tips to get inspired, bust through barriers, and get writing that children’s book you’ve always wanted to share!

As a storyteller, I have a great appreciation for the writing process. When creating my first picture book, Malaika's Costume, which won the 2021 title for the TD Grade One Book Giveaway —and will be provided to every Grade 1 student in Canada — I followed five steps to help my ideas come to life on the page. If you have inspiration for a children’s book brewing within you, try embracing this process to get your thoughts flowing.

1. Start thinking about your idea, and live with it for a while.

Sometimes we need to step away from the computer and chair to figure out the structure and inner workings of our story.  Do another activity; go for a walk, dance in the kitchen, clean... but think about your story.  Let it stew. Sometimes, we are too close to it to figure it out, and need some distance and a clear head.

2. Write it down

Commit to writing down your story, even if it’s just ideas at this point.  Your thoughts, your hook, a sentence, a character... any of these can be the launching pads for a story. Be sure to keep pen and paper near at all times!

3. Think about how you want someone to feel after reading your work

What do you want your reader to come away with? What do you want them to know or feel?  Who are you writing for?  Are you looking to connect with an adult reader (who may be a teacher, librarian or parent), as well as the child? 

4. Join a writing community 

I can’t stress this enough! Writing can be a lonely process, and having other people to bounce ideas off of is critical. Join an organization like the Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers, or the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Or, take a writing class or workshop to meet fellow writers on the same journey.

5. Read

If you want to write a great children's book, then you need to read a lot of them.  Some believe 100 books is a good goal.  Start with the award-wining and nominated titles and bestsellers.  When you discover a writer you like, read everything they've written.

6. Go for it

Don’t wait to be “ready”. Just go for it. Write it down. Share it. Have mentors, teachers, friends, and family critique your work. Most importantly, share it with kids and gauge their reaction; what’s working, and what isn’t? Writing is a process that requires courage, commitment, and vulnerability. Don’t be afraid to put your work out there and grow from the experience. 

 

Nadia Hohn is a dynamic "story lady" who has presented to audiences in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jamaica, and Trinidad. Her first two books, Music and Media in the Sankofa Series were published by Rubicon Publishing in 2015. Her award-winning first picture book, Malaika's Costume was published in 2016, which inspired two sequels published by Groundwood Books:  Malaika's Winter Carnival (2017), and Malika’s Surprise (2021). Nadia is also the author of Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, an early reader by Harper Collins published in December 2018. A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett-Coverley Found Her Voice, nonfiction picture book about the performer, playwright, author, and Jamaican cultural ambassador, Louise Bennett-Coverley otherwise known as Miss Lou, was published in 2019 (Owlkids). 

Nadia was one of six Black Canadian Writers to Watch in 2018 by CBC Books. She was a touring presenter in Alberta for the 2019 TD Canada Children's Book Week. In summer 2019, Nadia was the writer in residence at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, British Columbia. Nadia is an elementary school teacher in Toronto.  She holds an honours arts degree in psychology from the University of Waterloo, as well as Bachelor and Master of Education degrees from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). Malaika's Costume is the 2021 title for the TD Grade One Book Giveaway; her story will be given to over half a million grade one students all across Canada. Nadia is currently working on middle and young adult novels, a play, and more picture books.

Nadia teaches Writing for Children: An Introduction at SCS.


 

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