Write It Right: Creating Characters for Young Children

Stories for very young children tend to come in two flavors: the story with a plot and the story with a purpose. Now, a story with a plot can also have a purpose, but if you don’t have a plot, you better have a purpose. The purpose of a very young child’s story may be to introduce a concept like counting or colors. The purpose may be to introduce the child to a moral or character-building activity like sharing or patience. The purpose may be to introduce the child to a potentially scary activity they will soon face like going to the doctor or starting school. All of these purpose things can also have a plot (and will probably sell far more easily if they do). And if the story has a plot, it probably has a single main character as well.

So let’s think a bit about that main character. Your character needs to be someone the young child can (1) relate to and (2) care about. Your main character may not be the nicest person we know.  Children are actually much more forgiving about the flaws of others than we expect. Most kids know that they are not always so nice themselves––especially inside. However your reader needs to relate to the character––the reader needs to find something in the character that feels real.

Listen in for tips on creating these types of characters.

Listener Question of the Week

Claudia asks:

Can a long poem for children, where a character doesn’t really grow, but the story does advance, be a picture book?

Listen to the answer in the podcast!

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