Writing Children's Poetry
The number one rule is that you have to think like a child.
Don't think like a grown up or write like one. Instead take a step backwards in time to a much simpler form of mind. Think back to when you were a kid. Children have the amazing ability to incorporate fiction into reality. They are curious, imaginative, flexible, and above all they are open minded.
Children have highly creative imaginations and they are always looking for something that will stimulate their curious mind. Use this to your advantage. When you write poetry designed for children, write poetry that will set their minds to thinking. Their creativity will fill in the blank spaces. Literature is a mental game of fantasy that they are more than willing to play.
He was so afraid
that his teeth began to shake
They clicked and clacked so hard
They sounded like a big old rattlesnake.
Use humor to your advantage. Even dark issues are more interesting and understandable when there is an upside to the story. Keep the mood of your writing lighthearted no matter what issue it is that your prose deals with.
When writing for a younger audience design characters that children can relate to or feel empathy for. The more that they are able to identify with your characters then the more interested the children will be to find out what happens to these imaginary creatures and people.
Kids want you to entice them into the story you are telling so it can be quite easy to have them intently listening right through to the end of your tale. They want to be entertained and you are the master entertainer. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Use a plot that could happen to virtually any creature in any circumstance.
Mitzy, Fritzy and Plog
Went down to the hollow
To search for a frog.
Mitzy caught a cold
Fritzy a runny nose
And poor Plog hurt his leg
He tripped and fell over a log.
Not a one of them
Came close enough
To catch a frog.
Give your characters unique names and identities. It will make them more distinct and as such much more easily remembered by your audience.
rubba rub rub,
gonna catch me a turtle
to live in my tub.
Fiddily faddily foo,
And a Gumpin, Bumpin,
Going down to the creek
To catch me something.
The words you choose to use in your poetry don't have to make sense to adults.
They just have to make sense to your audience and your audience are little munchkin people who have huge imaginations. Although the words that you use in your verse may be total nonsense a child's imagination is stimulated by fantasy and will weave these unique sounding words into a realistic image.
Nonsense makes perfect sense to a kid. Their perception of a situation can be much different from our own. One note of exception between poetry for youth versus that of adults is rhythm. A child's verse is better served when the words flow with rhythm.
It might be wiggly
It might be squiggly
It might be covered in goo
Whatever it is
where ever it is
I am gonna catch it
and take it home to you.
Music appeals to all ages and the sound of a flowing poem is very similar to a song. Children can relate to the musical pace. Simple rhyme is a highly effective technique when writing for a younger audience.
Get emotional. There is an ability in a child to grab onto the raw emotion of a single sentence or word. Bring that emotion into your poetry. Let the child see and feel the image that you are creating. Put yourself into a child's world and into their frame of mind. Bring your work to life and they will be captivated by your words. Kids are generally pretty easy to please.
It isn't difficult to write children's poetry. Just walk your mind and attitude into that wonderful land of creative thought that children exist in, examine it, and then write it. Kids have an incredible sense of wonder, kindness, joy, and humor in their all that they do. Their attitude is infectious.
Fiddily faddily foo
Now I've gone and gotten
Something stuck on my shoe.
It is that awful
yucky sticky old goo
And I am gonna take it
Straight home to you.
Whether your prose is directed at children or adults the most important advice I can give to anyone is to not take the process too seriously. Keep a dictionary and thesaurus close at hand and you have the best tools to help you keep your writing professional.
Rhyme, rhythm, symbolism, and humor will flow into your work quite naturally if you enjoy the task. Penning any form of literature should be a labor of love. The more you write the better your work will become.
Related Articles by Lorelei Cohen
Resilience: Our Ability to Adapt to Change
Nightlights for Kids with a Fear of the Dark
Teeny Weeny Fairy Elf Party Dessert Treats
Bites and Stings: Insect and Animal Trivia