Books from our childhood can bring back memories like the smell of chocolate chip cookies transporting us back to grandma’s kitchen. We can remember reading them over and over again, on our own or with a loved one. And now, our children ask us to read their favorite book every night, and never seem to tire of it. What makes a children’s book good enough to have such a lasting impact?
5 Elements of a Good Children’s Book
As a children’s author, I have stayed awake at night trying to answer this question. There are lots of theories and opinions on the subject, which I researched thoroughly. I have concluded that there is no ironclad answer, but there are key elements every children’s book offers. The following elements seem to be essential and serve as the foundation of my books.
Characters with Clearly-Defined Personalities
Winnie-the-Pooh is an excellent example of a compilation of characters with strong personalities. Pooh Bear is simple and sweet, Piglet is insecure, Eeyore is melancholy, and Tigger is adventurous. Each has unique strengths and weaknesses that children can easily identify and relate to.
There is a reason why kids ask ‘why’ all of the time. Their brains are observing so much, so fast that they want answers! The endless questions can wear on grown-ups (especially if we don’t know the answer!), and their curiosity seems insatiable. Books are a way to satisfy their curiosity, like grandma’s cookies satisfy their sweet tooth. If a book illuminates the little light bulb in their head, they’ll remember the lessons for years to come.
Written for Illustration
The best children’s books please the eyes as much as the mind. Words and illustrations have a symbiotic relationship in a children’s book, where one cannot truly flourish without the other. Words must be chosen as if they are the paintbrush that brings the story to life.
Makes You Think (No Matter Your Age)
Big lessons can come in small packages, and that is the real challenge with a children’s book. In only 32 pages, a character or story can change the way a child thinks. A book can introduce new perspectives about nature, friendship, responsibility, and so much more. What makes a children’s book good is its ability to make a child think. What makes a children’s book great is its ability to make any person think.
Written with a Purpose
The best children’s books are written with a specific purpose in mind. With kids, that purpose can range from pure silliness to deep insights. If clever enough, the author can merge the two ends of the spectrum. Whether to educate, inspire, or entertain, the purpose should be clear before the author types the first word, and by the time the reader reads the last word.
Good is Subjective
Just like art, what makes a good children’s book is subjective. A book a child won’t let go of may be tossed across the room by another. But that’s also the beauty of children’s literature because no two authors are the same either. From one unique mind to another, we can connect to each other and to our world.
See how these elements are implemented in Elliot’s Adventures.
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