Children’s Writer’s Word Book
by Alijandra Mogilner
Writer’s Digest Books, 2006
$16.99 hardcover, 352 pages
About the Book
Becoming a published children’s writer is an achievable dream—now more than ever! Publishers in this fast-growing market are hungry for articles, books and stories. The Children’s Writer’s Word Book will help you position and present your work most favorably. It’s an easy-to-use reference, not meant to replace books on “how to write,” but rather to be used along with your dictionary and thesaurus.
Here’s what you’ll find:
Lists of specific words introduced at each of seven reading levels (K-6)
A thesaurus of those words with synonyms, annotated with reading levels
Advice and tips on those practices particular to word usage in children’s writing
Samples of writing for each reading level
Here’s what it does for you:
Helps you get into the minds of children at various ages
Offers idea generators for other stories
Keeps you in touch with reading levels for today’s kids
Gives you guidelines for sentence length, word usage and theme at each reading level
Most important, it saves you time by putting all this information in on handy volume.
The author provides a lovely introduction that encompasses thoughts about becoming a children’s writer, and what becoming an author for children could include. Alijandra Mogilner explains the value and necessity of using correct and appropriate for the targeted audience readers. This section also explains how to use the word book as a reference book including graded lists to keep in mind when creating dialogue and subject matter. There’s a section that discusses the use of the provided thesaurus and guidelines for using words not found in this book. You’ll establish an understanding that the words found in both of these things will always be part of a child’s permanent reading vocabulary.
The next section is on some of the things you’ll need to know when choosing to write for kids. Since writing for children is focused around the choice of words used and their usage in books in general, you will once again find more coverage on words and language that include the following: unusual words, name/nickname use, nonsexist and nonracist terminology non-use and why using generic terminology could prove better for use when describing both topics. Diversity is discussed in writing for younger children and how to introduce both along with using tags as actions or gestures a character typically uses that easily identifies the character to the reader. Quirks and movements like wiping his nose with the back of his hand, or how pushing his hand down before pitching the baseball are typical examples that could be called ‘tags.’
Next, you’ll move on to discuss theme and content focusing around your character’s age. Although the market is more flexible today than what it used to be, there’s a brief discussion about what is considered ‘taboo’ when writing for children. Fantasy and Fairy story writing is very popular in juvenile publishing, but retelling–not so much as it is in young adult.
Mystery writing is addressed with an explanation about the great differences between adult and children’s mysteries. Science Fiction usually becomes popular around fourth or fifth grade when fast-paced adventure comes into play. Discover the differences of children’s science fiction and adult science fiction.
Want to know more about romance, nonfiction and problem-oriented stories for children? There’s a section for each in this book.
The author provides a great section about age groups and reading levels, breaking down the levels, why books are indicated by level rather than by specific grade levels, and then takes each level and discusses their included groupings: Preschool or Kindergarten, The Primary Age Group, The Elementary Level, Middle School Through To High School and what each grouping category means to the children’s story/book author.
The section that follows then breaks down the kinds of books children read: Picture Books, Picture Story, Easy-to-Read Books, Hi-Lo Books, and Young Adult Novels. In this section you’ll learn what classifies a book to be placed in each group, and what’s required of you, the author.
Technical items that help you sell your books are included. Here word count, the standard format and Picture Books are focused on, as well as, bibliographies. Other types of writing are also included, such as: features, fillers, writing for television, writing for radio, writing in verse, and writing plays, with a special note on mainstreaming included.
The next section included in this book addresses the national standards and benchmarks and how they’re grouped with several grades and which ones are no longer grouped and why. If you want to know about Pre-Kindergarten and what is expected by the national standards for kids prior to entering kindergarten, you’ll find a huge list of twenty-three points. There is a list of eighteen points for Kindergarten and a list for Kindergarten through second grade (level 1) numbering a whopping twenty-two points. Third grad through fifth grade, or level 2 has a list of twenty-seven standards; and, sixth through eighth grade or level 3 has a list of standards numbering at twenty-four.
If you want to find more information on other standards and benchmarks children’s book authors should know, the author was good enough to include a section of information discussing where to find it.
After you’ve digested all of the aforementioned, drink water with it if you find it a bit dry, the author then takes readers through each grade, Kindergarten through sixth grade and middle school, and provides a word list for each.
Once this is done, the author has provided a thesaurus, recommended readings, sources used for word lists and more.
I have referred to this book a lot during my writing for children. The idea of having word lists all in one spot for grade school, is fantastic! I highly recommend that you consider purchasing this book for the lists alone. Knowing these words may be the difference between becoming published or not.
I give this book: