Before you get into the specifics of writing for children, you need to understand the importance of seeing the world
through the eyes of a child. This article will give you a few techniques for turning back the clock and discovering the
What comes to mind when you hear the word 'car'?
It needs a wash.
The tyres are bald.
When was the last time I checked the oil?
What comes into the mind of a child when he hears the word 'car'?
I get the front seat today.
Janie Piddle's has electric windows.
Wouldn't it be cool if it could fly?
Children see the world differently than we do. Decades of experience have not yet taken the wonder from their
lives. Because of this, most children tend to practice the here and now.
Going to the movies includes, not only seeing the film on a screen bigger than a house, it also involves important
choice-making: Lollies or popcorn? If lollies, which ones? Where do we sit? Way in the front or way in the back?
Let's try them both … not sure. Better try again.
A trip to the beach? The mind boggles. Sand castles, swimming, cricket. Play with the dog, watch the man with the
dragon kite. Eat the sandwich that's shoved into your hand. More swimming, tiggy, running races with the dragon
kite. The afternoon can be topped off with an ice cream and a nap on the way home. The perfect day.
A trip to the movies or a day at the beach is a very different phenomenon for adults. Responsibility and social
norms reign. Thoughts of expense, sunscreen, nutrition and how-do-I-look-in-my-swimmers crowd their minds. It is
important that these thoughts enter someone's mind, but it will rarely be someone under twelve.
When writing for children, we need to see the world through their eyes. This may come naturally to some of us, but
maybe not so for others. If it isn't in your nature to collect tadpoles, name them and try to understand the
relationships between them, you may need a little practice.
There are a number of methods for tuning your mind to the children's channel. You can use one, all or any
combination of the following:
Surround yourself with kids
Play with them, talk to them and ask them what they think about things. Become a child. If they feel like turning up
the stereo and singing to a Katy Perry song for the 47th time, join them. Try to figure out why it's fun. Watch
their faces transform, as they become rock stars. They aren't in the lounge room anymore. They're on stage at the
Convention Centre. Friends, family and the kids at school are watching them perform. Not only are they watching,
they are astounded by the quality of performance they are witnessing. Get up there. You wanted to be a famous
singer once, didn't you?
If becoming a virtual pop star isn't your bag, you can try to get into the mindset of a child by observing. Find a place
in a playground, a park or at the beach. (Be discreet or you may find parents ushering their children away from the
person who stares.) Watch the kids' reactions to each other, to adults, to strangers, to animals. If there are plenty
of kids and you hang around long enough, someone will interact with just about everything in the vicinity; not only
people but leaves, rocks, water even ants. Kids explore, they question, touch and feel. They want to try it all.
Another method of understanding the world through a child's eyes is to become immersed in children's books.
Spend some time wandering through the children's section of the library or a bookstore. Put yourself in the place of
the main character in each book and make a note of the ones that make you laugh out loud or develop a lump in
your throat. How do they accomplish this? Why do some books stay with you while others are forgotten as soon as
you close the cover?
Go back to your own childhood
One of the best ways to become a child again is to remember your own past. Do you remember how big your
teachers used to seem? How loud their voices were? Do you remember the smell of your school? The pencil
shavings and rubbers? How soggy your sandwiches were by lunchtime? Close your eyes and concentrate. Look at
a day in your 8-year-old life and experience it as you did then.
Try to see your everyday life through the eyes of a child. It's a wonderful way to fine tune your imagination and
learn to readjust your thinking. If you get into this habit, it will become natural to see things from a child's perspective
and this will show up in your writing. You will not be talking down to your audience, you will become one of them.
Above all … remember how to play.
Through the Eyes of a Child
Finding the Child Within You