Understanding Children’s Book Categories from Picture Books to YA

Not sure which stage of YA reading your child is at? Hilari Bell explores the world of children’s books on the Write for Kids website.

Kindle“Children’s Books” is a vast market, including everything from books for infants, with cardboard pages designed to be chewed on, to gritty YA novels full of violence, sex and profanity. Sometimes, when an idea for a story arrives, an author has no idea which subdivision of the field to write it for. Oh, no one’s likely to write a 500 word YA story about a dog that gets lost in the forest—but what about a book where first love goes awry? Is it middle grade, tween or YA? Would a story about the first day of first grade work better in a picture book or a chapter book? What are the various age related categories for children’s books, and what are the differences between them?

Here I’ve defined those age related categories, and talk about the differences in writing for various age levels. To make a lot of information simpler to track, I divided each age level into six areas:

Length—by and large, the younger the audience, the shorter their attention span.

Protagonist—generally kids like to read about kids older than they are.

Plot—the older the audience, the more complex the plot they can handle.

Character Arc—the longer the book, the more arc you can build.

Language—the older the audience, the more esoteric your vocabulary can become.

Theme—your story has to deal with the issues that matter to your reader.

Finally, I’ve divided the age levels into groups, separated by three asterisks, in the way they’re generally placed in different sections in libraries and bookstores, with all the varieties of picture book together, kids’ books together, and YA together. Because the section they’re shelved in does matter.

Read the full post on Write for Kids

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