Think like a child
By T. Lynn Adams
My youngest son came to me the other day with a drawing of a bird he claimed to have seen at our bird feeders. The bird, he said, was ‘giant’. It had a “grey vest that had those black spots all over the front and black like leopards.” The bird was wearing “a red mask like the one I wear outside when it’s cold.” Its wings were colored, he said, and it had a long tube instead of a beak.
Well, since no one else saw this bizarre bird I thought it was his imagination until, a few minutes later, he excitedly called out, “Mom, it’s back!”
I looked out the window and saw a very large woodpecker feeding off our suet block, dressed exactly as my son described. I was amazed as I watched the bird through the description of a child.
It made me remember another time my daughter, then three, grew very upset because I couldn’t find the video “what has the little gold girl and the red suitcase.” After a very frustrating half an hour, I figured out the little gold girl was Goldilocks and the red suitcase was the color of the video case, not a sign the heroine was running away from home.
It is just evidence that young children see things literally. Why do you think the characters of Amelia Bedelia and Ramona are so popular?
The mental innocence of a child gives writers a great chance to play with their stories in imaginative ways. So, here is a fun assignment to get you started. Write a short, two-page story using one of these ideas or one of your own.
1. The child is told Mom is clean the “dust bunnies” out from under the bed. When the child finds a real, dusty rabbit under his bed, no one believes him.
2. Dad comes in and says it’s “raining cats and dogs outside”. The child immediately dresses in raingear and goes out to find and rescue those hapless animals, bringing home every pet in the neighborhood.
3. The child is told to get the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and when he doesn’t find a cake made out of cheese, sets out to create his own.
Remember, when writing for children think like a child, act like a child, then bring it properly back to the adult world and both parents and children will smile as they read your book.