Hatter's Inkpot: Helps for Story Writers:
Books on Writing Books for Children

This shelf in Hatter's Classics is devoted to those of you who have a burning desire to put their stories into written form, particularly as children's books. Getting books published for children is perhaps one of the most difficult of publishing endeavors, and judging by what is available on how to do it, a most competitive field as well. Here are some suggestions to get you started. Feel free to print out a copy of this for reference. Browse through the titles. Look for them at your local library or bookstore. Links have been added to some of the authors as well. For information concerning price, availability, and if desired, a convenient purchase, follow any of the linked titles, a service of Eldrbarry's Story Telling Page in association with Amazon.com Books.
  • The Business of Writing for Children : An Award-Winning Author's Tips on How to Write, Sell, and Promote Your Children's Books by Aaron Shepard (2000)

    Aaron is a fine storyteller, who has published a number of excellent adaptations of folktales, including one of my favorite stories: Wali Dad. He promotes Story Theatre. All the nuts and bolts of writing children's books are here as well as rules that bear repeating, PLUS insights not usually found in how-to books. Clearly and concisely written, this is an invaluable resource for both beginning and more accomplished writers.

  • The Way to Write for Children by Joan Aiken (1999)

    After more than fifteen years as a writing shelf classic, The Way to Write for Children has been completely revised and updated. From analysis of what makes the best-loved children's books so successful, to where to look for inspiration, to practical advice on how to structure a plot, Aiken delivers an extremely useful book for anyone who's ever considered writing a children's book. She is an award-winning author of over a hundred books for children and adults.

  • A Basic Guide to Writing, Selling, and Promoting Children's Books : Plus Information about Self-publishing by Betsy B. Lee (2000)

    This forty page guide has a basic overview of information, and it directs readers to a wide variety of other resources. It was created as a teaching and review text for writing classes. Reviewers agree it is quite helpful and "jam-packed with valuable information." Cheaper than a burger, but much more satisfying.

  • It's a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World : A Writer's Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today's Competitive Children's Book Market by Olga Litowinsky (2001)

    Litowinsky, a children's book writer and former editor, has seen the bunny wars (kids' books as a business) up close, and she's full of good advice for aspiring authors. After tracing the history of children's book publishing, she gets down to the nitty-gritty: How do you get that book published, especially in these days of corporate behemoths, shrinking markets, and editors who may be a mite hazy on the concept of editing? Litowinsky has also written Writing and Publishing Books for Children in the 1990s: The Inside Story from the Editor's Desk an anecdotal how-to book considered a necessity for any would-be children's book writer and a valuable addition to the shelves of already-published writers. Litowinsky covers the entire book publishing process, from story ideas and submitting manuscripts through contracts to production and sales.

  • Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books : by Harold D. Underdown (2001) who has more online resources in his Purple Crayon

    Children's book publishing is one of the most difficult fields of publishing for new authors to get into. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books gives potential authors tips, inside information, and detailed instructions for everything from how to prepare a proposal to how to get an agent. Detailing the differences between picture books, juvenile fiction, and the young adult novel, the book also covers branding, series, and licensing, discusses writing styles and character development, and explains forming illustrator partnerships.

  • From Cover to Cover : Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books by Kathleen T. Horning

    An enlightening discussion on children's publishing that ends with a practical presentation on evaluating books and writing reviews based on sound analysis. In between, she divides the literature into books of information, folklore, poetry, picture books, beginning readers, transitional books, and fiction, and cogently discusses each one. Horning discusses such fundamentals as the difference between a trade and text book, the contents of a copyright page, and the definition of a tall tale in a user-friendly handbook on reviewing children's books with clearly written chapters enumerating the characteristics that make a book of a specific genre successful. Pleasing design makes the book all the more readable.

  • Origins of Story : On Writing for Children by Barbara Harrison (Editor), Gregory Maguire (Editor) (1999)

    In these essays, which originated as Children's Literature New England talks, notable writers for children consider how literature, memory, and moral passion serve the writer. Seventeen authors authors reach beyond themselves and their work to discuss vitally important subjects such as home and homelessness, violence and nonviolence, and the nature of heroism. Implicit in their essays is the realization that we have much to learn from literature that mirrors the lives of children.

  • Dreams and Wishes : Essays on Writing for Children by Susan Cooper (1996)

    The noted Anglo-American fantasy author here collects fourteen pieces on her craft, most of which she first gave as speeches, beginning with her 1976 Newbery acceptance speech for The Grey King. Taken as a whole, the book maintains a judicious balance of autobiography, musings on inspiration, and appreciation for the work of others such as Walter de la Mare and Ursula K.LeGuin.

  • Worlds of Childhood : The Art and Craft of Writing for Children by William Zinsser (Editor) (1998)

    Here are essays by six celebrated children's book authors that came into being as a series of talks at the New York Public Library in 1989. Children's book writing is often deceptively simple, and perhaps the one overriding theme here is the seriousness with which these writers approach their work. My only disappointment was that the editor didn't add a chapter himself, Zinsser's On Writing Well : The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction is an excellent book for any writer.

  • Children's Writer's Word Book by Alijandra Mogilner (1999)

    This title's unique design ensures that writers speak to their audience with a vocabulary and style they both understand and find appealing. A fast-reference guide meant to be used along with a dictionary, thesaurus and yellow pad of paper, it includes graded word lists (K-6), a thesaurus of the words with synonyms and annotated with reading levels, advice and tips on those practices particular to word usage in children's writing, and samples of writing for each reading level.

  • The Children's Writer's Reference by Eric Suben & Berthe Amoss (1999)

    The Children's Writer's Reference is a book of lists. Some of the lists, such as those explaining publishing terms or the various types of novelty children's books, provide a great service to a children's-book author. Among this book's most helpful lists are those featuring classic children's books worth exploring--books that deal successfully with anthropomorphism, with fantasy, with plot.Aimed at special marketing of books to children of various ages and genres, this guide gives children's writers all the answers they need to write and illustrate stories kids will love and publishers will buy.

  • Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market 2001: 800 Editors and Art Directors Who Buy Your Writing and Illustrations by Alice Pope (Editor) 2001

    Covering magazines, publishers, agents, contests, and conferences for children's books, games, puzzles, greeting cards, and toy packaging, this is truly the definitive title on the subject. It includes both contact information and specific submission tips to help your work get into the right hands, as well as examples of successful queries and cover letters. Each chapter is devoted to a particular area of children's publishing and provides hundreds of listings with full contact information, payment rates, guidelines, and market-specific advice such as "Present the most professional package possible. The market is glutted, so you must find a new approach." Interviews with successful authors and illustrators provide encouragement and practical advice.

  • A Critical Handbook of Children's Literature by Rebecca J. Lukens (1999 )

    Written as a text for children's literature courses, but also of interest to parents, writers, and anyone who assesses children's literature. Lukens insightfully covers the various genres, examining character, plot, themes, setting, point of view, style, and tone. The new edition (first, 1955) includes new examples of children's literature published within the last five years.

    Other pages of recommendations

  • Haemi Balgassi's Great Books for Children's Writers has a good list, she also has a page of advice for beginners and other resources.
  • Storyform has a bibliography on writing for children
  • The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators SCBWI has some publications.
  • The Green Man Reviews of Children's Literature
  • Loose Leaf Book Co NPR Radio show on Children's Books

    Two controversial voices in the issues of modern media and its effects on children are Neil Postman and Jack Zipes.

  • The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman (August 1994)

    Postman is noted for his critical thinking about the effects of modern technology on education and culture. This book offers a historical perspective on the "invention" of childhood and its possible demise at the hands of media and other the developments growing out of the information age.

    Neil Postman is also the author of Amusing Ourselves to Death : Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (November 1986) ; Technopoly:The Surrender of Culture to Technology (April 1993); and The End of Education : Redefining the Value of School (Reprint edition November 1996)

  • Sticks and Stones : The Troublesome Success of Children's Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter by Jack David Zipes (November 2000)

    Is the success of children's literature troublesome? Is it phenomenal? How do we judge the value of children's literature within the current culture that fosters the commercialization of childhood itself? In a series of essays mostly based on speeches given at various conferences, a scholar and social critic examines these and other provocative questions. Sticks and Stones argues that despite common American assumptions about children's books, our investment in children is paradoxically curtailing their freedom and creativity.

    See also Zipes' Happily Ever After : Fairy Tales, Children, and the Culture Industry (March 1997) - a history of storytelling and its changes between cultures with an unusual perspective on how the fairy tale has affected and changed cultures and societies from the 16th century to modern times, and his Creative Storytelling: Building Community, Changing Lives which is an excellent book on the application of storytelling to the educational enviornment.

    For more books by Jack Zipes and others on the implications and meanings of Fairy Tales, see Eldrbarry's Once upon a Couch. . .

  • Don't Tell the Grown-Ups : The Subversive Power of Children's Literature by Alison Lurie (2000)

    In this excellent overview, Lurie points out the subtle ways that many classic children's authors such as Barrie, Burnett, Milne, Nesbit, and Carroll embedded social criticism within their stories. Lurie has a smooth, intelligent style, and a refreshing dry wit that sets this book apart from much literary criticism.

    The following books are also on Hatter's Tomes: Eldrbarry's list of Reference Books for Storytellers . . .

  • Myth, Magic, and Mystery: One Hundred Years of American Children's Book Illustration by Micheal Patrick Hearn, Trinkett Clark and H. Nichols B. Clark

    A beautiful and affordable paperback! A book put together to accompany an exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, it is full of familiar pictures - pictures from the books of my childhood - evoking the memories of favorite books. It is also a history of American children's literature, divided into five topical essays. Check the Amazon.com link for more reviews and the chapter's outline.

  • Written for Children by John Rowe Townsend (1995)

    This is a history of the development of Children's books in the English language from the early 1800's through the 1960's. As such it is a helpful resource book on the writers, as well it helps us understand how the genre of children's literature has developed and changed through the years. He has several other books on the subject of children's literature.

  • Children's Books and Their Creators: An invitation to the feast of twentieth Century children's literature Edited by Anita Silvey (1995)

    A dictionary of American children's writers since the turn of the century - there are 700 pages of biographical information here. A good reference work for any one who enjoys children's literature - especially for parents who would like to know more about the authors their children are reading.

    And then the tools every writer needs. . . a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and The Elements of Style 4th Edition By William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White.

  • A Dictionary of Modern English Usage by H. W. Fowler (Editor),
    Modern American Usage: A Guide by Wilson Follett or
    The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style by Bryan A. Garner.
  • Words into Type by Marjorie E. Skillin or the more cumbersome
    The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers (14th Edition).

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