Celebrating East African Writing!

Magic, Heroes and Chocolate – Writing for Kids

What makes a good children’s writer? The writer must have a genuine and powerful wish not only to entertain children, but to teach them the habit of reading. The writer must be a jokey sort of fellow and must like simple tricks and jokes and riddles and other childish things. He must be unconventional and inventive. He must have a really first-class plot.

He must know what enthralls children and what bores them. They love being spooked. They love ghosts. They love the finding of treasure. The love chocolates and toys and money. They love magic. They love being made to giggle. They love seeing the villain meet a grisly death. They love a hero and they love the hero to be a winner.

But they hate descriptive passages and flowery prose. They hate long descriptions of any sort. Many of them are sensitive to good writing and can spot a clumsy sentence.

They like stories that contain a threat. “D’you know what I feel like?” said the big crocodile to the smaller one. “I feel like having a nice plump juicy child for my lunch.” They love that sort of thing.

What else do they love? New inventions. Unorthodox methods. Eccentricity. Secret information. The list is long. But above all, when you write a story for them, bear in mind that they do not possess the same power of concentration as an adult, and they become very easily bored or diverted.

Your story, therefore, must tantalize and titillate them on every page and all the time that you are writing you must be saying to yourself, “Is this too slow? Is it too dull? Will they stop reading?” To those questions, you must answer yes more often than you answer no. [If not] you must cross it out and start again. ~ Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Quote courtesy of

Storymoja has a catalogue of children’s books published under the Storyhippo catalogue. Here are just a few.

Doom Shook the Earth: A modernised take on the ogre story. The terrified children become brave heroes. Can they defeat the ogre and save a friend?

In the Land of the Kitchen: Animated kitchen utensils fall into discord and end up learning a valuable lesson about diversity and unity.

Attack of the Shidas (AKAs Save the Earth): Three young children develop super hero powers that help them to save the earth from really nasty aliens.

Go-Go the Goat Goes Ga-Ga in the Game Park: Go-Go gets lost in a game park full of wild animals.Find out how he crosses the park and gets home with help from a hare, two dik-diks a rhino and a lion.

See more titles here.

Do you think you can write a story worth publishing for kids?

Here are a few tips on how to get started from children’s writer Michael Rosen and some interviews of writers who write for children from The Book Base.



This entry was posted on January 7, 2013 by in Writer's Blog.
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