Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Chapter Books

Here are ideas for writing a book for kids, garnered from studies of what appeals to readers aged 6-10. Learn from bestselling children's chapter books and write your own book!

Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Chapter Books

Children's chapter books offer a wide scope for the creative writer; they can range from the simplest (about 1,500 words) to the more advanced (up to 10,000 words) - or between 40 to 80 pages.

A children's chapter book is usually divided into many short chapters of 3-4 pages. Each chapter may form a complete story in itself, with the protagonist(s) - and sometimes the supporting cast of characters - remaining the same throughout the book. Or successive chapters may form one continuous story, building up to a climax at the end.

The text is often accompanied by line drawings but some chapter books, especially those for advanced readers, may not be illustrated at all. Children's chapter books often come as part of a series; they tend to sell better that way.

Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Chapter Books for Personal Growth

Kids who read chapter books are the more advanced readers among 6 to 10 year-olds. With new-found maturity, these children appreciate warm, true-to-life stories about people whose experiences and lifestyles might be different from their own.

Books with well-developed characters help readers to identify and empathize with the feelings of others - even people from another age or culture. Check out these favorites: the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder; The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh; Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink; Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman; Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls; Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry.

Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Chapter Books about Family, Friends & School Life

Kids of this age continue to enjoy stories revolving round the familiar world of family, friends and school - but with more exploration of relationships and a wider setting than for younger readers.

Take a cue from bestselling books like Anastasia Krupnik and sequels, by Lois Lowry; The Flunking of Joshua T Bates by Susan Richards Shreve; Ramona the Pest and sequels, by Beverly Cleary; Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan; Sounder by William H Armstrong; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe by Bette Greene; and The Pinballs by Betsy Byars.

Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Chapter Books to Help Kids Deal with Challenges

Studies by child psychologists reveal that kids actually need stories to help them understand their world and make sense of life.

Write books that help children deal with growing-up issues, relationship problems and challenges like parents' divorce, the death of a family member or friend, peer pressure and making right choices.

Look at how experienced authors have handled sensitive issues: Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume; The Cat Ate My Gymsuit and Amber Brown is Not a Crayon by Paula Danziger; Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith; The Bully of Barkham Street by Mary Stolz; Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds.

For more tips and ideas, go to How to Write a Book of Inspirational Stories for Children

Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Mystery & Adventure Stories

Kids love action-packed adventure stories. They also enjoy trying to solve whodunits before the detectives in the story uncover the mystery.

Adventure-and-mystery chapter books sell well especially when they're packaged as a series; readers begin to identify with the "hero/heroine", and seek out other stories in the same series.

Look out for popular series like the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene; Hardy Boys detective stories by Franklin Dixon; The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs; Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J Sobol; and the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins.

Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Fantasy Stories

Fantasy-adventure chapter books are much sought after by advanced child readers. These tales touch lives by opening up the realms of imagination and helping kids deal with issues at a subconcious level. The best fantasy stories can teach readers good values and aid in the healing of emotional hurts and psychological problems.

Great examples to learn from: The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis; A Wrinkle in Time and sequels by Madeleine L'Engle; The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster and Jules Feiffer; The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Lyman Frank Baum; Charlotte's Web by EB White; The Black Cauldron and others in the same series by Lloyd Alexander.

Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Funny Stories

Whatever kind of story you're writing, add a dash of humor to keep kids reading. Children love jokes, comical characters and funny stories. However, you need to distinguish between what readers find genuinely funny and what falls flat.

To get a feel of what goes down well with readers of this age, check out popular titles like How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell; The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Catling; the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey; A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck; Harry's Mad by Dick King-Smith; and the Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary.

For lists of bestselling chapter books for 6-10 year-olds, go to Cliffhanger Stories for Children

For tips on how to write children's chapter books in a way that gets kids' attention, go to How to Write Stories Kids and Teens Want to Read

Writing for younger readers? Go to Guidelines to Write a Book for Beginner Readers

Writing for older readers? Go to Cool Ideas for Preteen Stories

Return from "Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Chapter Books" to "Creative writing Ideas: Hot Favorites for Kids"

Return from "Ideas for Writing a Book for Children: Chapter Books" to "Creative Writing: Write to Win Hearts"

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