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FINDING SUCCESS WITH CHILDREN'S STORIES by Pamela White

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FINDING SUCCESS WITH CHILDREN'S STORIES by Pamela White

As a mother who grew up watching one television show, Captain Kangaroo, I am often astounded and fascinated by the overflow of children's programs and the number of networks devoted to babies or toddlers or pre-schoolers.

As I was spending time with my friends' four little ones, I realized that their favorite, most adored, and repeatedly watched programs had simple characters, soft music and lots of "hey, join us in our happy dancing," sometime in the show.

As odd as it may sound, my toddler television viewing led me to research tip top ideas for creating your own children's stories to sell to publishers or magazines.

* Children love animals, but today's animal characters are strong, creative and almost always brave. Just watch the Wonder Pets. In this show, a trio of schoolroom pets takes off in their flying boat to save some animal in danger. The danger can be as scary as a kitten floating down the river or as relevant to the child as helping a puppy learn how to use the doggie door because he needs to "tinkle." If you choose animals (or vegetables or plants) for your main characters make them relevant to your young readers' every day activities. Allow your characters to overcome adversity, whether they learn to try new foods, help a sick friend, or learn to use the potty.

* For really young ones think about what comforts them. It could be soft kisses, a special blankie or granny's lap. This idea can become a simple celebration of baby or toddler joy, or be used as a lesson by adding conflict that must be resolved. The blankie is missing; who will find it? Or solve the mystery of where granny's lap goes when she stands up. Perhaps you could take a daily routine like good night kisses and create a story where parents must go away overnight and the baby wonders who will kiss her goodnight.

* To connect with your readers (or listeners), use recognizable characters. If you don't use small children and familiar settings, then imitate "The Hungry Caterpillar" or big books with animal babies in them. These offer characters that small children can see in their lives or at zoos or in movies. Our dentist has a tropical aquarium with a few clown fish in it and each time I visit children run in and stare open mouthed at the tank, then turn to the rest of the waiting room and squeal, "I see NEMO!" Create your character from popular dog breeds, or exotic wild beasts; it doesn't matter, as long as the adventure is something a child can laugh at, relate to or learn from.

* Make dialogue believable to the child. Use simple words but don't talk down to them. Don't know if your dialogue is real? Visit pre- schools and play groups and listen to the variety of ways children tell stories to get a feel for how to write true dialogue.

* The younger the child, the fewer the characters needed to tell the story. For little children, one point of view can be the most successful, in other words, tell the story from the point of view of one character. As children grow and they see their own social circles expand, adding more characters or groups of friends engages the child in the story.

Stories for small children have changed over the years but connecting with the children (and parents) through characters, conflict, situations, celebrations and fun, whether in traditional or new ways, remains the goal.

About the author: Pam White is the editor and publisher of two ezines for writers: Food Writing and The Writing Parent (www.food- writing.com and www.thewritingparent.net) . She is the author of Make Money as a Food Writer available at www.amazon.com. Her articles have appeared widely over the internet and in Writer's Digest, ByLine, Writers Weekly, Home Cooking, BackHome, County Families, Busy Parents Online. Her essays have been published in Soul Matters, Spirit Communication, and HerVenture.

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