Thursday, July 8, 2010

Read, Read, Read

A few days ago, I spoke at the SCBWI-Tulsa, Oklahoma monthly meeting called Schmooze. The main message I was conveying was that a serious writer has to be a serious reader. Often when I make this statement to newbies in the children's writing world, they say, I am so busy, I don't have time to read. In my opinion, you can't afford NOT to read if you want to be the kind of writer you are hoping to be. Not only will it help you see different styles of writing, it will make you aware of the kinds of stories in the current market.

I believe a good place to start would be with the award winning books like Newbery and Caldecott. Do a search on your computer to find a list of present and past winners. The winners are chosen by a committee of adults. However, if you want to get a more accurate picture of what books kids like, I'd go to the state awards. I am most familiar with the Oklahoma Sequoyah and the Missouri Mark Twain Book Awards. Books for these awards are nominated by librarians then three lists are compiled: children's, intermediate, and high school. Before 2010, there were only two categories (children and young adult). Students read the books and vote. Did you catch that? Kids choose who gets the award that year. Here is a link that gives a list of the various state awards:

So start reading!


  1. It always seems a little weird to me that people who don't read want to write. Don't you need to have a passion for story to be a writer? What if a chef told you, "Oh, I don't eat food. I live on protein shakes, because I don't have time to eat real food." You wouldn't want to visit that restaurant, would you?

  2. I loved your presentation, Helen. Thanks for taking the time to teach us.