Writing for Younger Age Groups

One thing I’ve been having kind of a hard time with is the tone of voice I ought to use when addressing young children with my story. I want to avoid sounding patronizing, but I also want to avoid overly complex language. To help me get a better feel for how to deal with this issue, I’ve been looking at Sesame Street clips on YouTube!

So, for those three, the definitions are pretty straightforward, which is what I remembered from when I was a kid watching Sesame Street. However, after browsing through the related videos, I found this old one which I probably first saw when I was about 3.

While I was watching it for the sake of nostalgia, I noticed something I had not picked up on when I was a little kid… that the sketch, while also tackling the fine art of fish-calling, is really intended to teach kids the difference between “quiet” and “loud”… very sneaky, Sesame Street, very sneaky indeed.

The reason I’m posting it here is to contrast it with the teaching approach used in the top three videos. All of these sketches have been about teaching different concepts, but the top three directly address the viewer, telling them that the purpose of the segment is for vocabulary expansion. This is an approach I had been considering taking with my book – making it part of a series on vocab building, with this particular book being about the word “quality.”

However, after watching the Bert and Ernie one, I’ve realized that my ideas don’t have to be completely limited to that. One of the reasons I decided to go for an obviously vocab-based book was because I thought my ideas for story lines had too much relative complexity, and were getting in the way of the overall goal of the project. After having seen this example, though, I now realize that there’s no problem at all with having am entertaining premise surrounding the actual learning aim of the book – as long as it’s simple enough, it will just help to draw the viewer in.

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