Six Thoughts About Writing Nonfiction For Kids

By Gloria Reichert

Since I have been immersed in researching and writing a new picture book biography, ideas about writing nonfiction for children have been swirling in my mind. Here are a few for writers in this genre to consider.

1. Ask yourself, “WHY would a kid want to read this?” Try to find some interesting way of connecting to kids. It could be a quirky fact, a delightful detail, or something humorous you discover doing research. Don’t pass up items of this nature. They could be just the hook you need.

2. Make sure your research is flawless. We owe it to our readers to make sure the truth is told. Use primary resources, such as diaries, letters, and newspapers as much as possible. Search for something in the person’s childhood that laid the path to his/her adult accomplishments. Also search for a connection that you personally share with the subject. This will lend both authenticity and heart to your writing.

3. Share the information in creative ways. Few children will be enthralled with a list of facts that reads like an encyclopedia entry. Write in scenes to show what happens and pull your reader into the story. Use a variety of sentences and punctuation. Fill your sentences with figurative language and sensory details. Incorporate word play. Write the story in different ways until you find the best way to tell it.

4. Read and study mentor texts published within the last five years for inspiration. Many of them have taken approaches that model creative ways of sharing information. Examples include No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong, Stonewall: A Building, an Uprising, a Revolution by Rob Sanders, illustrated by Jamey Christoph, and Moth: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus.

5. Consider ways to use back matter with your project. This supplemental material can provide   the reader with a deeper look into the subject about which you are writing. It can provide background knowledge to enhance the reader’s understanding. It can provide curricular tie-in’s for teachers to use.

6. Use online resources to keep up with the latest about writing nonfiction for kids. Check out the six sites below for tons of helpful information.                                    


Happy researching! Happy writing!