There’s more to writing books for kids than making characters come to life, crafting unique plots, and weaving suspense and humor throughout. You also have to keep up with the times—what’s cool nowadays? What do nine year olds think about? Are you using phrases or similes that relate to them?
This concept became obvious to me a few weeks ago when my husband and I decided to take my kids on a hike in Southern Utah.
We were in an area with lots of natural red-rock formations. Some of them were high up on mountain tops, like the “elephant rock.” Other face-like formations were on the sides of dangerous cliffs. There was one outcropping of rocks on the top of a plateau, however, that was within our reach. By the locals it’s called the “milk bottles.”
“Huh? Milk bottles?” my kids asked. “What are those?”
It’s true. My children have never seen a milk bottle before. To them, milk comes in one gallon plastic jugs at the local grocery store.
We pointed to where the milk bottles were. They couldn’t see them. We then explained the precise location. Still nothing. Then we did one simple thing that changed their entire perspective.
“Think of them as water bottles,” I said.
“Oh,” my children said, “we can see them now!”
So, in the morning hours of that late summer day, I hiked, with my husband and children, to the “water bottles.”
Fifty years ago kids would have been stumped if you’d called them water bottles. Who drank their water out of bottles? But in 2014, that’s what our kids know.
One word can make all the difference.