meaningful children's story

Meaningful Children’s Story: How to Create One

Salmaan Ahmad

Salmaan Ahmad

July 31, 2023

Children’s book ideas range from the simple to the profound, but a few children’s books stand out because they have a meaningful children’s story. If that’s the type of book you’d like to write, here are some pointers on how to create a meaningful children’s story.

What Makes a Children’s Book Memorable

When considering a meaningful children’s story, it’s important to think about what makes a book unforgettable. We all have fond memories of books that we read as children whose characters and stories still resonate with us. These books make a lasting imprint for many reasons.

According to the writing website WritetoDone, the five elements of an “unforgettable” meaningful children’s story are the following.

  • Unique, memorable characters: Characters are critical to a book’s success, and that’s especially true for children. If you create a character they love, they will want to see that same character over and over. Think of the success of characters like Pete the Cat, Anne of Green Gables, Madeline, and Winnie the Pooh. They stand out for their winning personalities, adventurousness, and other qualities.
  • Suspenseful plot: You may be surprised to see this here, but a strong plot is essential to most fiction. This is especially true when you’re writing for today’s children, who are used to finding many sources of entertainment at the touch of a button. There must be a reason why the child continues reading to the end. Children enjoy the spooky thrills of books like Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Wait Until Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn, and the bestselling R.L. Stine books. You must always remember that you’re writing for children, however. Make sure you only introduce elements of fear and suspense that are appropriate to the child’s age to create a meaningful children’s story.
  • Believable dialogue: Children have a sharp ear for inauthentic, forced, or unbelievable speech. It’s hard to write a meaningful children’s story unless you really listen to the way they talk. Spend time with kids in the age group you want to write for. Listen to the ways they communicate with each other, and try to reflect that in your writing.
  • Satisfying plot ending: Most children’s book ideas begin with a problem that the main character must solve. The action centers around the character’s attempts to fix the problem or find an answer. This is your chance to tell a meaningful children’s story based on the approach you use: Will the character need to ask others for help? Will they need self-reliance to figure it out themselves? Whatever approach you choose, you should always choose a wholesome, positive ending. Children’s books are not the place for an unresolved or bleak ending.
  • Strong brand identity: Although a good children’s book is a work of art, it needs a strong brand identity to make a meaningful children’s story. In many cases, the book’s artwork is what stands out, which is why your choice of illustrator is important. Some of these books became superstar successes because of the indelible images that went along with the well-written stories. Examples of this are the bestselling Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, illustrated by Anita Jeram; Miss Spider’s Tea Party, written and illustrated by David Kirk; The Rainbow Fish, written and illustrated by Marcus Pfister; and The Snowman, a book without words illustrated by Raymond Briggs.

If you can create a meaningful children’s story with memorable characters and beautiful artwork, your children’s book may be a winner. Here are some tips to inspire your meaningful children’s story.

Make Inanimate Objects Come Alive for a Meaningful Children’s Story

Children are surrounded by inanimate objects that they take for granted. A book that uses these objects to walk and talk is an intriguing surprise that will make children look at them with newfound wonder. In The Little Red Pen by Janet Stevens, a red pen asks a stapler, an eraser, and a pushpin for help correcting papers. The book tells a meaningful children’s story about getting help when you need it. Ricky, the Rock That Couldn’t Roll, by Mr. Jay and Erin Wozniak, is about friends not abandoning each other just because one has difficulties doing things.

Solve a Child’s Problem for a Meaningful Children’s Story

Children are still learning how to make their way in the world. Their problems may seem simple, but they’re monumental to these kids. They could range from, “How do I tie my shoes” to “How can I cope with wearing glasses?” to serious issues like loss and grief.

For these reasons, children respond well to books that show characters facing the same challenges. The 2022 bestseller and Caldecott Award Winner Mel Fell, by Corey Tabor, describes a young bird who falls out of her nest and must learn to fly. It’s a meaningful children’s story about self-confidence.

The 2015 book Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev is about a boy with a pet elephant who isn’t allowed anywhere the boy wants to go. It’s a gentle story about inclusion and acceptance.

Make Animals the Stars of Your Children’s Book

Some of the most loved and most awarded children’s books use animals as main characters. Children feel a natural closeness to animals, and the best children’s writers use that closeness to create memorable stories.

In A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry, a young wolf cub must find a place to call home after getting separated from his pack. Based on the real-life journey of a wolf that was tracked in the Pacific Northwest, it is a story of courage and resilience.

The book Escape from Baxter’s Barn, by Rebecca Bond, recounts how Burdock the barn cat and his farmyard friends must work together to escape a barn fire and find a new home.

In the Chronicles of Narnia series, animals can talk, and they work with humans to solve problems. The story of Aslan the lion, who is put to death but is then resurrected, was author C.S. Lewis’s way to tell a meaningful children’s story about the power of Christian faith.

Teach History

If you want to tell a meaningful story, look to history, which is full of important stories children should know. Stories from history make excellent children’s book ideas.

The classic Newberry Award winner The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare, tells the story of a girl struggling to fit into a new culture. The book deals with issues of prejudice, witchcraft accusations, and the treatment of Quakers during the 17th century.

The 2020 book We Are Water Protectors, by Carole Lindstrom, recounts the history of indigenous movements to protect the earth’s waters. Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad’s The Proudest Blue explains the history behind the hijab worn by Muslim women.

Create Children’s Book Ideas with the Rule of Three

The “rule of three” refers to a standard plot device in children’s literature that many authors use. It is standard in fairy tales, fables, and myths, but it’s also commonly used in other art forms.

The rule of three states that things that come in sets of three are more satisfying. Using it can help you create a meaningful story that keeps the reader turning the pages.

In practical terms, this means:

  • The main character must interact with three other characters during the story.
  • The character must face three challenges before getting to the resolution.
  • Your book must feature three locations before it reaches its destination.

Using the rule of three can help you create conflict, drama, and resolution in your children’s book. Use it to spur children’s book ideas and create a meaningful story.

You Can Write a Meaningful Children’s Story

We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to a meaningful children’s story. With the right story, characters, artwork, and plotting, your book can become a children’s favorite. If you need help with any aspect of printing your children’s book, Publishing Xpress can assist you. Just give us a call, or use our online contact form.

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