Society & Culture & Entertainment Writing

How To Write Articles For Children

With the growing number of magazines for children, there's a healthy market for children's articles – one that isn't tapped by most writers. Writing articles for children is different than writing factual or informational articles for adults. Your audience has a different attention span, different interests and a different vocabulary. If you want to write informational articles for children, there are some guidelines and tips you should keep in mind while you write.

-Tell it in a story.

The very best way to teach factual information to a child is to put it into a story. Kids will absorb the information far more readily if they have a framework for it. This works especially well in you are trying to teach historical facts, which will take on a life that is hard to forget when they're attached to engaging characters and a memorable story.

-Tailor your writing to the right age group.

One of the key points in writing articles for children is knowing your audience. The paragraph that will be the perfect explanation for a sixth grader will hopelessly confuse a third grader. It's not just a matter of vocabulary. You also need to use a more simple sentence structure for younger children and present fewer ideas per paragraph. When writing for older children, you can allow yourself get more complex – but it's always important to remember that they don't have the same reference points as adults.

-Don't write down to your audience.

While you might need to limit the vocabulary that you use in writing factual articles for children, you should never "dumb it down" by writing in a condescending tone. Kids despise the "and you, dear reader, should know that…" style of writing.

-Be scrupulously accurate.

Check and double check your facts. Make sure that your information sources are up to date and accurate. Depending on the field, a book published as little as a year or six months ago may be out of date today. If you're writing about science or technology, be especially careful to check your facts through thoroughly.

-Choose an interesting subject.

But be sure that you are thinking like a child. Interesting for a child includes such diverse subjects as why we need sleep, how the leaves change color and what happened in the Civil War.

-Now narrow it down.

Broad overviews can be difficult to write for kids. Choose an aspect of your subject that's particularly interesting, and write about that little slice of it. Instead of writing about life in Revolutionary era in America, write about making breakfast in a Colonial kitchen or a typical day's chores for a ten year old boy.

-Link information to things that they know.

Whenever possible, use concrete examples and similes to help explain complex new relationships. Need to explain how strong an ant is? In addition to telling your readers that an ant can lift 11 times its own body weight, tell them it would be like you lifting a whole cow over your head.

-Be conversational.

Write as if you're talking to one kid, not as if you're lecturing a classroom. Use "you" sentences to make it personal. The more personal it is, the easier it will be for your readers to stay engaged with your article.

-Put your readers in the picture.

Don't stop with addressing your readers directly. Bring them right into the story. "What if you were the size of an ant? Blades of grass would look like…" The more you can appeal to their imaginations, the more successful your article will be.

- Go for the fun factor.

Use examples that make sense to kids, and that will engage them. Use references that they'll understand and examples that they'll find funny. Give them weird facts – did you know that a giraffe's tongue is so long, it can clean out its own ears? That fact will stick in a kid's mind longer than almost any other comparison you can think up.

- Use relevant references.

Remember that your audience has a different frame of reference than you do. Make your references relevant to that frame. A worm that's thirty feet long? It's as long as a school bus. How many miles of intestines they have in their body? They could wrap around your classroom sixteen times.

- Go for the Ewwww! Factor.

There's a reason that Most Extreme shows are among the most popular with preteen audiences. They love the biggest, the highest, the best and the grossest of everything. Appeal to their sense of the gross with fun facts and icky knowledge and you'll be near and dear to their hearts.

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