Children’s Book Written by Children

A couple years ago I saw a video where Flight of the Conchords was writing a song for a children’s charity. How they got their lyrics was by interviewing kids and asking them questions about how we should help the sick kids of the world. I really liked this concept of involving kids in the discussion about helping kids.

For this last project, I am planning on creating a children’s book with children as the authors.  For this book, I want the storyline to come from only children’s imaginations.  Working at a day care for the past two summers have made me realize how short a child’s attention span can be, especially when reading a book. If they are not interested in the story, they will not listen. I figured if the story is written by children, they may be able to relate more closely with the storyline and maybe pay attention throughout the entire story.

Since the idea came to me while I was working with the kids of the day care where I’m employed, I am working with twenty to twenty-five kids from the day care. They range from ages two to five so the range of content in the story will be fairly vast. I have created a character and created a list of twenty-four questions about this character. The questions discuss the character’s favorite things, season, where his parents work, etc. The answers that the children give me will become the structure for the storyline. I have interviewed each child or pair of children separately so their imaginations and ideas were not influenced by other kids. Though I found that when I was interviewing kids together, their answers were either the same or influenced by each other’s sense of humor.

I am estimating that the story will be from twenty to thirty pages long. The size of the book has not been decided yet but it will be the average size of a children’s book. When it comes to the layout of the pages, each page will be divided in half, one side being the illustration, the other being the text. Some illustrators that I really like are:

Nozomi Inoue http://www.nozomiinoue.com/categories/3/images/76?locale=en 

Crocket Johnson (famous for “Harold and the Purple Crayon”) http://www.k-state.edu/english/nelp/purple/ 

E.H Shepard (Original Winnie the Pooh illustrator) http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whats-on/online/witw/drawings 

I like the simplistic imagery each illustrator creates, which is what my illustrations will be based on. If you haven’t seen the video yet of Flight of the Conchords interviewing the children and recording the song then click on this link and have a couple laughs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca4ty7tz9x0 

Let me know if you have any questions or comments 

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6 Responses to Children’s Book Written by Children

  1. Jeremiah Valle says:

    Smart choice on giving some guide lines for the child to form the story around, things could have gotten a little abstract near the end haha. For you last couple of books the pages have a lot of white, for the childrens book do you feel to go white again or fill it with colour? Also considering kids books are mostly coloured.

    Good luck! 🙂

    • Well at first I didn’t give the kids any boundaries so they were just telling me crazy stories that weren’t connecting so I had to come up with the questions to get some form of a storyline out of them. And I would like to add a little colour, with pencil crayon probably. I don’t want too much though since my illustrations are very simple, I don’t want colour to be what takes over the image. I’m trying to match my book with the general style of a published children’s book, but I also want to stay true to what I think will work with the story and character’s “personality” if you will.

  2. bartyparty44 says:

    I love that Flight of the Conchords video, its very interesting and definitely shows how imaginative children can be. I hope you are able to create something that brilliant from the use of the stories your are getting from the children. I am excited to see the finished product. My one question is: Will you be changing the order of any of the individual stories to suit your needs and to make a more stable storyline?

  3. Well I just asked the kids a bunch off questions about the character I made up and combined all the answers to make the storyline. Some of their answers won’t be in the story but influenced what will be in the illustrations instead.

  4. What if it’s not filtered by you so much, so that there’s a bizarre aspect to the story? I’m reminded of the Exquisite Corpse drawings and stories of the Surrealists. Maybe each child can hear the last sentence or two of the previous child’s story?
    Who is the audience for this? If it is to be adults, what is the message? If it’s kids, what’s the message? What if it’s for both? Is there a different message? My kids have a great tolerance for the bizarre.)

  5. I actually did just that. The first child told their story, then I read the last part to the kids, and had them tell me their story. It did come out bizzare which I liked but if I wanted to relate my book to be in the category of “children’s book-esque”, then I needed a cohesive storyline.

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