Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Can Write Articles for Children Too: Follow These Eight Easy Steps

Read this great article below by children's author Pat McCarthy and let her take the mystery out of writing for children.

Eight Easy Steps to Writing an Article for Children

Have you thought about writing an article for a children’s magazine? Maybe you have an idea, but you’re not sure how to go about it. Here are some tips.

Step One. Choose a topic. It should be something that many children will be interested in. But it should also be something you know about or are interested in learning more about. Animals, sports, famous people, science and how-to articles are all popular choices..

Step Two. Narrow your topic. Concentrate on just one aspect of it. I wanted to write an article about birds. I’d just returned from Florida, so I decided to concentrate on the birds I saw in one place, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. This was still too broad a topic, so I honed in on how different birds there eat. The article, “Dinner at Ding Darling,” was published by Children’s Digest.

Step Three. Research your article. Use both online resources and books and articles. Editors like a mix of print and Internet sources in a bibliography. Look for interesting little tidbits that will appeal to kids. Find facts with wow appeal and yuck appeal. Kids like the amazing as well as the gross.

Step Four. Organize your research. Jot down the main points you want to make, then go through your notes and plug them into your outline. It doesn’t have to be a formal outline. It just needs to get your thoughts in order. I love outlines. Once my outline is done, the article seems to almost write itself.

Step Five. Write the article. Decide what age you are writing for, then try to keep your writing on that level. Don’t talk down to kids but try to use words that age child would know and understand. Keep your sentences simple and fairly short. Use short paragraphs. Children are intimidated by large blocks of type.

Step Six. Revise and edit your article. To make sure it flows smoothly, read it aloud to yourself. That will enable you to notice the rhythm and to find repeated words. Be very sure there are no errors in spelling or grammar.

Step Seven. Research the markets. Get a copy of Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market or research children’s publishers online. Make sure your article is the right length, for the right age, and on a topic the magazine uses.

Step Eight. Submit your article. Then get busy writing another one.

Sound simple? Try it! With a little work and practice, you can be successful at writing articles for children.

Pat McCarthy is an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature and the author of over a dozen books for children. Learn more about her books at her blog, If you have a question about writing for children, e-mail Pat at More resources for children's writers will soon be up on the blog.

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  1. great information again, and I want a pj award. Maybe next time for me, as I got overwhelmed with bootcamp and didn't get all of my articles done.
    Good job.

  2. Hi Terri
    Thank you. I know you can get a PJ award if I can. It is such a great feeling of accomplishment. It's all about timing and I think that is what the exercise is suppose to teach us.


  3. This is a very informative article, useful for all writers. I find that deciding for what age is targeted followed by trying to keep the writing on that level is very important.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Meghna, Welcome,
    I have read that keeping the voice to the age level you target is a skill that needs to be practiced too. Some have said we writers need to remember our own feelings at that age and that is a helpful exercise.

    For some of us older ones, that could take a while though.