Know What You're Writing Before You Write That Kid's Book
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Know What You’re Writing Before You Write That Kid’s Book

Know What You’re Writing Before You Write That Kid’s Book

Your idea for a children’s book may be great and original. But before you start writing it, you should know what kind of book you’re going to write. Why? You’ll have to pitch it to an editor and state what kind of book it is and its target age group. Plus, if you know what category your book fits, you can research other books in that category, so you know your competition and know what is standard for that kind of book.

Although there are variations among publishers, here are the typical categories for children’s books:

Picture book fiction

  • Ages 4 to 8; 100 to 1,000 words. Picture books are designed to be read to children. Illustrations supply information that is omitted in the text, such as the color of someone’s hair (unless color is important to state).

Picture book nonfiction

  • Ages 4 to 8; 100 to 1,000 words. Many nonfiction picture books are illustrated with photographs or stock art.

Storybook, fiction and nonfiction

  • Ages 8 to 12; 900 to 2,000 words. Storybooks are picture books for older kids. Although they are illustrated, the text stands alone and doesn’t require pictures to complete the story.

Concept picture book

  • Up to age 8; 100 to 1,000 words. These books teach concepts such as compare/contrast and sequence (days of the week and ABCs).

Picture book bio

  • Ages 8 to 12; 1,000 to 2,000 words. These are biographies of famous people that kids read about in school because the people are tied to school curricula and current events.

Reader or Easy to Read, fiction and nonfiction

  • Grades pre-K to 4; 400 to 2,000 words. The purpose of readers is to instill a love of reading, and they are written so children can read the books themselves.

Chapter book, fiction and nonfiction

  • Ages 7 to 10; 2,500 to 40,000 words. There are low and high chapter books. Unlike picture books for younger readers, a chapter book tells the story primarily through prose, rather than pictures. Still, chapter books often have illustrations. This category represents the level at which children first read books that are divided into chapters.

Middle grade nonfiction

  • Ages 9 to 12; 2,000 to 10,000 words. These titles cover science, history, biographies, cultural topics, etc. They are often illustrated with stock photos, maps, and graphs.

Middle grade novel

  • Ages 9 to 12; 15,000 to 50,000 words. These texts have few if any illustrations. The text supplies all the information.

Young Adult or YA

  • Ages 10 or 12 and up; 40,000 words and more. Novels for those who are not yet adults. A booming market now that many adults read YA books too.