If you want to know the real difference between a kid and an adult, think of a large bar of chocolate. Now think of that chocolate half-melted – all gooey and sticky. How would an adult handle it? Carefully, with lots of napkins at hand. And a kid? A kid would just dive in with zest – slurping, licking and quaffing the stuff down.
Adults step out carefully. They look before they leap. Kids run out with their arms open wide to embrace the world. They live in the moment. A children’s writer must be able to capture the uninhibited world of the young if she wants to connect with them. She has to learn to think like a kid.
Loosen up, have fun
Children are unafraid of looking foolish as long as they are having fun. And everyone is welcome, including “fox in sox” and “the cat in a hat” and “a wocket in the pocket”. Dr. Seuss knew this little secret to a kid’s heart – nothing is too silly or too over-the-top for a kid to enjoy. So you have to loosen up and have a good time before you can expect your readers to.
Let that imagination run riot
Kids have no sense of the impossible. Give them a wild ride and they will return for more. Children’s writers cannot be limited by what is proper or believable or possible because that is not the world that children inhabit. So cross those boundaries and stretch your imagination.
Tooth fairies, Santa Claus, Oompa Loompas, Pixies, Mermaids, Wizards, Cheshire Cats – serve it with oodles of attitude and watch your young readers swallow it with relish.
Feel the Kid Spirit
If you want your characters to act and talk like kids, then feel the kid spirit. Because they live in the moment, kids feel more strongly and more deeply than adults do. A kid doesn’t just ride a cycle; she feels the wind, breathes in the warm sunshine and waves at the passing cars. When kids weep, laugh or play, they immerse themselves completely into the venture.
So the next time you write about a child dancing, feel the music and watch the ground slip away from under your feet as you cavort around without a care in the world. Happy writing.