Five ways to write for kids

How do you write about big, complex global issues for a child? Some people think you can’t, or that, if you do, you need to dumb things down. We disagree. We think writing for a child is pretty similar to writing for an adult. And recently we got to put our thinking to the test when we did some work for children’s charity The Economist Foundation*.

So what are the challenges of writing for a younger audience? The Foundation worked with teachers to try and suss them out – here are their five tips.

1. Start at the start

Don’t assume any prior knowledge. Why should kids know about the origins of a conflict that’s been going for 30 years?

2. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes

What will they be able to relate to? Other kids. So talk about their experiences whenever you can.

3. Tell them a story

Cold, hard facts are difficult to absorb. Never assume that someone will think a stat is interesting without the context.

4. Keep things simple

One idea per sentence will do. And mix up your sentence lengths.

5. Don’t dumb down your words

People need to hear long words to learn them, just not too many in one sentence. That’s confusing.

*The Economist Foundation is a charity closing the opportunity gap for the young and disadvantaged. They help young people find a voice by giving them the information The Economist readers get in a language they can understand. They’re creating a digital library of articles, videos and infographics for teachers to use in classes and after-school clubs.

We’ve been helping them explain who they are and what they do, as well as helping them adapt their style for a younger audience.

By Ed  

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