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What qualifications do I need to write for children?

In theory, none – there are no specific qualifications or education you need to prove you can write for children. Writing is one of those professions where the proof is in the pudding – it’ll show quickly in your writing if you are any good or not. But, it does help if you have certain qualities to make it as a children’s writer. The most important is a liking for children! There really is no point writing for children if you don’t actually like them. Ultimately, you’ll struggle to come up with ideas that children will enjoy if you can’t empathise with them and don’t want to enter into their world. And, please don’t be tempted into writing for children because you think that you will make millions; success like JK Rowling’s does not happen very often.

Understanding Children

You need to be able to immerse yourself into a child’s world; understand how they think and what interests them. This is easiest if you have access to children on a regular basis – your own children or nephews and nieces perhaps. If not, perhaps you could volunteer with a playgroup or help children with their reading skills at a local school. This will enable you to study them, how they interact with one another and the world around them. Plus, it’ll give you the ideal opportunity to try out your ideas on them – it will be obvious pretty quickly if they find your stories uninteresting.

Who are the Competition and how Good are They?

Now, you need to do some market research to find your competition and what they’ve written. You should spend some time reading modern children’s books so that you have an idea of what other people are writing and what is being accepted by publishers. Plus, it gives you a good idea of what standard of writing you will have to achieve to be successful.

What Kind of Children’s Books do you Want to Write?

There are many types of children’s book, for example fantasy, science-fiction, educational, comedy, horror, adventure and you’ll have to decide which you’d like to do first. You will also have to think about which age you’d prefer to write for as writing for very young children is vastly different to writing for teenagers.

Part or Full Time?

Finally, you need to decide if you want to write just as a hobby, part-time, or as a full-time career. Approaching writing with the intention of having it as your full-time career will obviously need more input, investment and planning than if you choose to write simply as a hobby to supplement your income.

So, although there are no formal qualifications you need to write for children, there’s still plenty to think about.

If you think you’d like to try writing stories for children request a free copy of our Writing for Children prospectus to find out how we can help you become a successful children's author.


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Lou Carter"After completing the course I began writing as much as I could and in 2014 I was finally signed by my agent and within two months I had a contract with Bloomsbury.

To date I have nine picture book contracts all at various stages of publication. There Is No Dragon In This Story (Bloomsbury) and Pirate Stew (Orchard) both published last summer and Oscar The Hungry Unicorn (Orchard) is due to be released on Sept 20th 2018. "

Lou Carter


Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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