Write to the Heartfelt Needs of Kids

I was surprised at my reaction to the back-to-school sales. Last spring, I left teaching to write full time. I didn’t expect to have strong feelings about back-to-school supplies this summer, but I did. It was obvious that the children and parents in the store had their own range of emotions, too.

  • Nervousness
  • Excitement
  • Dread
  • Happiness
  • Fear
  • Pride
  • Worry
  • Denial

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Read What You Write

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.
Simple as that.”  ~ Stephen King

I don’t like the horror genre (it gives me nightmares), so I’m not a fan of Stephen King. But when he’s right, he’s right.

Romance writers read romance. Science fiction writers read sci-fi. Historical novelists read historical fiction. And children’s writers read children’s books.

ReadYou may have heard the illustration describing how Treasury agents are trained to detect counterfeit money. The illustration explains that Treasury agents study genuine money until they are familiar with the smallest details. They are taught to recognize characteristics such as the feel of the paper, color, background patterns, and watermarks. After in-depth study of the real thing, counterfeit money will be obvious.

What does counterfeit money have to do with writing for children?

Many writers who wouldn’t attempt to write for adults think writing for children is easy. After all, they reason, how difficult could it be for a college-educated adult to write a thirty-two-page book for a six-year-old?

Truth is, it’s extremely difficult. Even more so than writing for adults. Children’s writers must communicate their subject using age-appropriate vocabulary. They must write in a way that will hold the child’s interest, because children have short attention spans and fickle interests.

Writing in rhyme requires more than the ability to match similar-sounding vowels. It requires the ability to rhyme words without sacrificing the essence of what we wish to communicate and without forcing the rhyme.

The children’s author also needs to understand meter. Writing in rhythm is not just about counting syllables. We need to recognize the difference between various meter patterns, too.

Creating excellent children’s writing means refusing to take shortcuts. Children’s writers must hone their craft as much as those who write for adults. We start by reading the genre we wish to write, whether it’s board books, picture books, beginning reader books, or chapter books.

Writing for children may be difficult, but it has its rewards, too. You and I have the opportunity to change the way a child thinks and behaves. We can entertain and instruct. We can communicate joy and wonder. We can write a book that a child will someday read to his children. Through the power of the written word, we can create memories that will last a lifetime.

Read what you want to write. Then go write it.

What children’s books have influenced your writing?


Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids. The first two books in the series are Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called.

In addition to her writing, Ava also teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.



W2I! 2017 Conference date is set

Note the date and mark your calendars. The date for W2I! 2017 is March 24-25 and the place is North Greenville University.

The W2I! planning committee has met several times and gathered ideas and information to make our spring conference a success. We are also looking for programs and services we can offer throughout the year so it won’t seem so long between conferences.

We are looking into possibly offering some online video conferences with some of our favorite presenters that you can take part in from home. More information is forthcoming.

Do you need a quality critique on a manuscript you have written? We are offering the “2 for 1 Critiques” again. You can get two critiques on your manuscript for the price of one critique through W2I! Look on our W2I! website under “Critiques” to learn more about this program.

We are also looking into ways we can offer our published participants’ books for sale on our blog. These sales will help the authors as well as W2I!

Do you have any suggestions to offer the planning team for the 2017 conference or for other W2I! activities? We would love to hear from you.

Be an Author – Do One Thing

Do you have dreams of being an author? Specifically, you may feel a calling from God to write for children. I challenge you to do one thing this summer. Pick something from the list below. Do one thing.

  • Attend a writers conference.
  • Join a critique group.
  • Subscribe to a journal for writers.
  • Spend 30 minutes sitting in the children’s section of a bookstore.DoOneThing
  • Follow a writing blog.
  • Have a conversation with a children’s minister about books that should be written.
  • Spend two hours a week writing.
  • Check out the new books in the children’s section of the library.
  • Volunteer to work with kids (church, library, community organization).
  • Have coffee or lunch with a children’s author.

What choices would you add to the list?

Many blessings on you and your desire to serve God through writing.


Free Photos for Your Blog

You’ve written a terrific blog post. Next step is to scour the Internet for the right photo to accompany your post. But just as our writing is copyright-protected, so are many of the photos we find on the Internet.

Free PhotosSo where can you find appropriate photos that are legal to us and also free?

Here are a few sources to consider:


“Canva is an online designing software that makes designing images simple and is easily accessible, allowing you to create designs for Web or print.” Registration is required.

Death to the Stock Photo

The free subscription provides access to a monthly email of free photos.

Life of Pix

This site offers “free high-resolution photos” with “no copyright restrictions.” It goes on to say “all images are donated to the public domain.”


Identifies itself as a source of faith-focused, cheesy-free stock photos.

A paid subscription is required for unlimited use, but if you are on their email list, they offer a free photo every week.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met has made more than 40,000 high-resolution images available online.


This site does not require registration.


Requires registration but the photos are free.


This site offers “Free (do whatever you want) high-resolution photos.”

U.S. government agencies
Many U.S. government agencies allow their images to be used without charge.

Pay attention to the various Creative Commons licenses. The most flexible Creative Commons license is Creative Commons Zero (CC0). CC0 enables you to use the photos for free, even commercially, without asking for permission or even crediting the photographer.

Always read any licensing fine print. Some free photos have restrictions preventing commercial use. Some sources require an attribution (e.g. “photo courtesy of …”) while others do not require that you credit the photographer. Still other sources provide the photo for free, but limit your use to one time only.

This list is just a sampling of what’s available, but it’s a good start. Have fun exploring these sources of free photos!