but I don’t even like kids

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"Look. I'm carrying a kettle of scalding water."

“Look! I’m carrying a kettle of scalding water.”

What’s with the face? You don’t like honesty? It’s not completely accurate to say I don’t like kids, because I do–on a child-by-child basis. But the species in general? Not so much.

And in case you’re wondering, yes I have two children of my own. Do I love them? With all my heart. Do I want to be surrounded by a battery of wee nose miners on a daily basis? Oh, my. NO.

I knew it. “The face” is back. You’re wondering why I want to write children’s books when I’m not a super fan of kids. Let me explain how I reconcile the apparent disconnect–at least as I understand so far.

Not too long ago I met Andrew Karre, the editorial director for Carolrhoda Books, at a retreat for children’s writers. He told us he believes children’s literature is about children, and not written for children. What’s the distinction? Motivation. Rather than being audience-centric and focusing on pleasing the reader, Karre suggests the drive to create children’s literature needs to focus inward. Intriguing perspective, isn’t it? I had to noodle over it for quite a while, but I think he’s right.

From the time I recognized myself as a writer an ice age ago, I knew I wanted to write children’s books. Isn’t that odd? So specific. So narrow. Children’s literature has an innate openness, optimism, humor, bravery and tenderness that makes it irresistible to me, as a reader and a writer. Those are the qualities I want funneling through my brain, my heart and my imagination. Writing about children allows me to experience that. I am so lucky. Knowing a child may enjoy what I love to write is a spectacular bonus.

What about you? Why does children’s literature call to you?

(And by the way, if you like kids, it’s okay. I still accept you.)

A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.
~ C.S. Lewis

10 responses »

  1. That’s so interesting what Andrew said. I like the issues in kids books,, the plot lines, the characters, etc both to read and write. And kids get so excited about reading. That’s why I like to write kids books.

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  2. I love this perspective Vicky! I think we all go through seasons in our relationships with children. There were those years I directed the children’s choir at my church and just loved all those little rug rats…but if you asked me to do it now, I’d say, “Umm,that’s OK:)” But the thought of spending time with kids at a school visit to talk about books that connect us is really exciting. I don’t think you have to love the kids the same way all the time to write well for them, but I do think you have to love what they love and get what they get and laugh at what they think is funny. It’s more of a childlike state-of-mind for me. And btw…love the picture! That water looks HOT!

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    • Hi Patti,

      Thanks for visiting Frog on a Dime! I totally agree with the importance of keeping that child-like spirit alive in us. I think writing children’s books helps us do that too. I’m looking forward to doing school visits some day too (all I have to do is get published first. Minor detail.) Wouldn’t that be amazing to “see” our readers and be able to hear their questions and comments. I would love that!

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  3. I can definitely relate to the content of this blog post and the comments it has garnered. Wonderful to know there are writers out there who feel the same way as I do.

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  4. Such an interesting comment. Wish I had been at that retreat because I would have liked to ask him some question about it! And I also wish that Carolrhoda would open to unagented submissions again soon! 😉

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    • Hi Cathy, I’m still not 100% sure “why” I picked children’s literature (or it picked me?), but I am sure I’m glad about it. I have the same wish about Carolrhoda’s submission policy, but I understand why smaller imprints have to limit the influx of manuscripts. They aren’t really publishing middle grade right now–my genre of choice–but are planning to pursue it in about a year. Andrew Karre invited the retreat attendees to submit, so I will be sure to take him up on this rare invitation. If I hear about the house opening up more options, I’ll be sure to let you know. Thanks for visiting Frog on a Dime today. My best to you on your writing pursuits.

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  5. Hi, Vicky, I really like your honesty on the subject. I can relate to much of what you said. And although I do like kids, I have no desire to have any of my own. But I do love to write children’s stories. I think that love comes from the child that still resides in me. And that inner child loves children’s books. Also, if I can make kids happy through my writing, that’s just plain awesome!

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