Hi everyone, I hope you’re all doing great! Today we have a special guest post from children’s author, Robbie Cheadle.
This post is about her experience of writing for children.
Writing for children
I have always been a reader and a writer. I learned how to read at the age of four years old and have always had at least one book on the go ever since. Usually I read and/or listen to three or four books at the same time; one will be an audio book, one will be poetry, and two will be fiction. My interest in reading led me to ‘scribbling’ as a girl. I used to write fanciful prose full of long descriptions about flowers and snowflakes, I also always wrote poetry. English was my favourite subject at school, followed by History.
When my oldest son, Gregory, was born in 2003, I wanted him to enjoy all the books I’d loved as a girl and so I read to him. Initially I read while he fed and as he got older, we had reading sessions which got longer and longer. Even now, whenever I go to see the doctor who delivered Gregory, his receptionist comments how she remembers my son as being the little boy who would sit and be read to for up to three hours while we waited for my monthly and then weekly appointments during my pregnancy with my second son, Michael. Michael was also taught to be a reader. When he came along in 2006, he used to sit on my lap while I read to Greg. I read to, and later with, Michael until he was twelve years old.
We read so much that eventually I ran out of books. We had repeatedly read all my childhood favourites such as The Enchanted Wood and the Wishing Chair books by Enid Blyton, the Dr Seuss books, the Beatrix Potter books, and many others. I started looking around for modern books to read to my sons. I was not delighted with some of the books I bought for them as many of the stories involved precocious children who made a point of disobeying their parents and doing naughty things. I didn’t want to encourage my boys into bad behavior.
When Gregory was in Grade 1, he melted his wax crayons on the heater at school after reading about similar behaviour by a boy in a book. It was this incident that pushed me to write my own series of books for children full of fantasy and adventure. I liked the idea of stories about people helping other people.
Michael came up with the idea of Sir Chocolate, a little man made of chocolate who lives in a world where you can eat everything and who helps his friends solve their problems. From this idea, Michael and I created Chocolate Land and all the little edible people who live there. Our stories follow the usual format of having a ‘bad’ character, but they always get redeemed at the end of the story. Sir Chocolate and his friend, lady Sweet, have an unerring way of finding out what is troubling a difficult character and helping to solve their problem, thereby simultaneously resolving the issue that is causing trouble for the people of Chocolateville.
Our stories are written in rhyming verse and this is mainly due to the influence of the Dr Suess books in my life and the lives of my boys. I used the Dr Suess books as a primary early reading source after reading that rhyming verse and sound repetition is helpful in teaching children to read.
At the time when we created Sir Chocolate and Chocolate Land, I was teaching at our local Sunday School. My boys attended my classes which often involved a baking activity that was linked to the lesson. The Sir Chocolate stories fitted naturally into some of the lessons about friendship and acceptance of difference and the children enjoyed the characters and the stories. One of my friends suggested that we turn our story ideas into a first recipe book for small children by including some recipes.
I thought this was a terrific idea and so I updated the first story, Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries to include five simple recipes that children could make with a caregiver. I loved the idea that these books could help caregivers and children bond, both through the reading and the baking exercises.
The Sir Chocolate Book series includes all my ideas about helping children learn to read through rhyming verse and sound repetition and combines my views on encouraging creativity through the fantasy elements of these stories. The messages in nature conservation and other things in these books are subtle and are intended to gently encourage children into the caring about nature and their fellow human beings.
The baking exercises are fantastic for teaching children certain maths concepts like measurement, addition and subtraction as well as encouraging fine motor skills such as mixing and pouring.
I am pleased that my books are popular with small children and hope that their caregivers take advantage of the opportunities provided to create memories with their little ones. You don’t realise when your children are small how quickly this time with them passes.
Tips for writing for children
- Use lots of lovely and colourful illustrations to gain and keep young children’s attention.
- Don’t make messages to obvious, just like adults, children don’t like preachy stories.
- Keep the vocabulary simple.
- Keep the plot straight forward and don’t introduce distracting sub-plots, they confuse young children.
- Have fun writing your story, if you enjoy it, children will too.
About Robbie Cheadle
Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth; and
Two short stories in Spellbound, an anthology of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre.
Thank you Robbie! And thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post.
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