By Kourtney LaFavre
Children experience the world differently than adults. They have a natural curiosity and desire to learn about the world around them. When writing for children and young adults, it's important to know and understand the audience you are serving. A wonderful way to gain a deeper awareness of who you're writing for (and find inspiration for stories) is to go back to your own childhood. It may seem a little strange for some people but you can talk to your inner child too.
Here are some questions to ponder from your childhood or to ask your inner child:
My inner child is where I found the inspiration for IF SUN COULD SPEAK, illustrated by Saki Tanaka. I was enrolled in a course with Children’s Book Academy, and Mira (director of CBA and picture book whisperer) prompted us to think of a problem or question we had as a child. That piqued my interest, so I set the intention to recall a childhood memory that would make a great story. It was the next day that a memory from my childhood popped up.
I was about five or six when I first discovered that the sun doesn’t actually rise and set. I had assumed that the sun was moving up and down in the sky, because the word RISE means to move upward. That was the definition that my five year old self understood, and five year old brains are very literal. It totally blew my mind that it was the earth’s movement that created sunrises and sunsets. And I felt mad that I was mislead to believe inaccurate information. I was frustrated whenever I heard people say anything about the sun RISING. That’s where the concept of a book told from the sun’s perspective began, to clear up any misunderstandings about the sun.
I took my childhood feelings and transferred them to the main character, Sun. Sun would be a feisty character, wanting to teach people the truth. I pictured Sun saying things like, “How dare they think I rise. I do not rise.” The title to my first draft was I DO NOT RISE. The main character, evolving through many revisions, kept a slightly egotistical trait. It happens when the world revolves around you. Sun had two goals when talking to readers: One is to share information about who Sun is and what Sun does. And the second: to inspire readers to wonder and search for discoveries.
Traveling back in time to your childhood is a wonderful exercise to gain a deeper understanding of children, and you can use it to fuel your writing for children. You may even find the inspiration for your next story while you are there!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome Aussie debut author and former student Amanda Lieber who will be focusing on Aussie kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature our new blogger coming soon.
4th Mondays features new blogger, the fabulous Brentom Jackson, who has a beautiful approach to blogging.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break