Engaging young readers is important for children’s authors, but in an effort to reach them, how do we understand our young readers? Maybe we are parents or grandparents. We might be teachers or caregivers. Maybe we just have a heart for littles. I think every children’s author would agree that effective writing for children requires something beyond wanting to reach kids.

Remember the fun of speaking into a microphone on the playground?It was oh so fun to whisper a message into one end of the tubing, only to be heard loud and clear on the other end.

There was only one requirement. The speaker had to use a “voice” that could be understood by the listener. The speaker had to use the language of the receiver.

How can children’s authors use a voice to reach young readers?

One way that we, as children’s authors, can reach or engage young readers is to understand their concerns and interests. We can’t assume that because one cute kiddo loves sports, all kids do. We can’t think that because one child is concerned about a parent losing a job that all kids are concerned about that. As important as those things are, they don’t represent the interests and cares of every young reader.

I was reminded of this truth recently as I taught a lesson on Joshua.

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, NIV

I asked the children (mostly eight years old) what things might be false gods in their own lives or the lives of others.

Immediately, I heard sports, video games, and money. They were so articulate that, if I had closed my eyes for a moment, I might have imagined I was with an older group.

I learned something beyond the Bible lesson that morning. I was reminded that even young kids are aware of the false gods that are around them, vying (without a life of their own) for the attention of young kids.

As children’s authors, we must surround ourselves with kids, beyond the one or two kids in our own families. We must hear the voice of today’s children as we strive to write to engage their hearts and their understanding of God’s Word.

***

Carol McAdams Moore writes for children and youth in the general and Christian markets. Learn more about Carol and her tween devos: Dare U 2 Open This Book – draw it, write it, dare 2 live it – 90 devotions and Just Sayin’ – write ‘em, draw ‘em, hide ‘em in your heart at CarolMcadamsMoore.com.

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