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Writing Up, Not Down to Children

By | Writing | No Comments

“Anyone who writes down to children is simply wasting his time. You have to write up, not down.”- E.B. White

This week I’ve been going through the incredible edits and feedback from generous friends who’ve offered to review my next children’s book, Yoga for Kids. It’s been difficult for me to balance the desire to have something to accessible to children, that still conveys the heart of an ancient practice thousands of years old.

I found this excellent overview of famous children books authors by Maria Popova incredibly inspiring and justified something I’ve felt all along: We need to honor the wisdom, the imagination, and the wit of the children we write for.

Some writers for children deliberately avoid using words they think a child doesn’t know. This emasculates the prose and, I suspect, bores the reader. Children are game for anything. I throw them hard words, and they backhand them over the net. They love words that give them a hard time, provided they are in a context that absorbs their attention. I’m lucky again: my own vocabulary is small, compared to most writers, and I tend to use the short words. So it’s no problem for me to write for children. We have a lot in common.– E.B. White

The spirit in which we write is often just as important as what we write. Do we (as writers) find the information inspiring, and thought provoking? We’re all part of this exchange. Writing for and reading to children shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. And this is why you’ll always see discussion guides in my books. I want us to have conversations where everyone can learn and grow: parents, teachers AND children.

In the process of writing, I always have the luxury of discovering a bit more of who I would like to be in the world. By author-osmosis, I hope my readers find that well of discovery, too.

Thanks for reading and a HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed feedback this week. I couldn’t do this without your support and guidance.

In gratitude,