Why We Write Kid Lit

As promised, in honor of National Day On Writing, the BBS family shares why we write for the kiddies and teens.

by Tameka Fryer Brown
Author of Around Our Way (PB)

I write to express my thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs—
Poignant or not,
Sleeve-worn or not,
Endorsed by the general masses
Or not.

I write because I have something to say
And a right to say it.

I write because my muse has infused my literary tongue
With brilliance unparalleled;
And because she’s abandoned me so
I’m trying desperately to coax her back.

I write because I can.

I write to avoid mopping, dusting, vacuuming,
Tubs, toilets, tile,
Dirty windows, dirty laundry, and dirty dishes…
Because a writer has a good excuse to avoid these things,
But a stay-at-home mom
With kids in school all day
Does not.

I write toward self-actualization.

I write to keep my wits sharp.

I write to show insecure Girl-Me that I can,
To show other self-doubters that they can, too.

I write because words are beautiful things
That I cherish…
And I pray, someday,
Some child will cherish mine.
It’s Bigger Than Me
By Paula Chase-Hyman,
Author of The Del Rio Bay Series (YA)

I write, because I’ve always expressed myself best that way. There’s nothing like taking emotion and putting it into words that make sense to someone besides yourself. Writing is how I make myself understood.

I write for teens because I relate well to them. I think a higher being ordained some of us to be children’s authors because of that. I just “get” teens.

I get that they’re neither as fragile as some adults make them out to be or as tough as they want to come off. I get that being caught between two bickering friends IS as big a deal as mom and dad having a bad day at the office. I get that the world is confusing because so many messages are coming from so many sources, yet they also happen to have an opinion within all those voices.

I write for them, because:
* A lot of times it’s not about the message, but how it’s told. No offense to authors who say they want to teach a lesson, but when I was a teen I didn’t read to learn lessons, even when I walked away from the story with one.

* Some spiritual muse tapped me on the head when I was younger and said – everybody wants to feel like somebody gets them, tell stories and make it so.

* My writing is about more than me. It’s something bigger than me, but a piece of me I don’t mind sharing with the world.

Gwendolyn Hooks
Author of The Pet Club Stories (Easy Readers)
Why I Write . . .
Because I’m a reader, I write. Reading about relationships between family members, best friends, a child and a pet, or the tug of enemies pulls me to my laptop. I want to create stories about how people connect with each other. I want them to say, “I know what she’s feeling, because I felt that way when . . .”


Kelly Starling-Lyons
Author of One Million Men and Me (PB)

I still remember the book that inspired me to write for children, Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. It was the first time I saw an African-American girl featured on the cover of a picture book. As I read the story, I was touched in a special way.

Growing up, I rarely saw kids who looked like me as the main characters of children’s books. I loved books and treasured every story I read. But after reading Something Beautiful, I knew I had missed something important. Right then, I decided to add my voice.

My mission as a children’s book author is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. I write stories that are often rooted in African-American history and culture, but also show the ways we are more alike than different. At their core, my stories are about relationships between family members, siblings and friends.

I know how it feels to long for stories that reflect your life and history and come up empty. I write to help make sure kids today have a different reality.
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Author of, Eighth-Grade Superzero (MG)

I write to move from, as bell hooks says, from “silence into speech”. I write to make meaning and listen between the lines. Stories give us room to ask the questions that have more than one answer, or no answers at all. I write because I have faith, and because I have doubts. I write because life is itchy and often excruciating but writing keeps me listening for the joy beyond happiness and the justice beyond what’s fair. I write to really listen to your story, and mine.The poet Wendell Berry wrote “In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter, war spreading, families dying, the world in danger, I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.” In writing, I try to sow clover, to be one of the helpers, to collaborate with readers on our collective story because I believe that we each and we all have a story that’s beautiful and precious and full of possibilities.
Don Tate
Author of It Jes Happened (PB) and Illustrator of over 40 books for children.

I write because I like to talk. I like to connect with others. I like being the life of the party. People who know me will read this and giggle to themselves, Don Tate, talk? Life of the party? Really?

Yes, really, I do.

Problem is, I’ve always been an introvert to the Nth degree. Shy, big-time. Given an opportunity to talk, I would clam up and not say a word. Talking made me apprehensive. But writing allowed me to verbalize myself freely.

When I wrote, I could be brave. I could make you laugh. I could make you mad. For better or worse, I’ve made a few of you cry. Writing is powerful.

I started writing about 6 or 7 years ago, a late bloomer. Writing opened me up, it got me out of my shell. I became more confident. Eventually, I could deliver a speech, or make a presentation in front of hundreds of people and feel comfortable in my skin.

So to this day, I talk. I connect. And I’m the life of the party . . . when I write.

6 thoughts on “Why We Write Kid Lit

  1. I started writing when my son hit MG reading level and we discovers a vast void of action/adventure books with boys who looked like him. I remember saying, in complete naiveness, “Honey, I’ll write you a story.”

  2. I Hold these same reasons for writing. I just want to share myself, my world, my thoughts. I, too, am an introvert until I sit down to write. Then I can’t shut up and my fingers or pen fly.

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