A Little Book Research

For market research on my kid’s writing challenge, I ended up going back in time to read a few children’s books. I tip my hat to these authors. They wrote a work (and in some cases more than one) to stand the test of time. Thousands of books are published each year; yet, so few are remembered. This is one of the joys of having children, you get to read these great books again. These are some of the all-time best for a reason:

Charlotte’s Web, has there ever been a better children’s’ book written than this one? Throw out the child moniker, has there every been a better book? Some Pig, Charlotte. It really is.

Tale of Despereaux, this book is a treasure. My kid loved it. It’s heart-wrenching too. I shed a tear at the end. And yes, I did with Charlotte’s Webb too. I also cry when I watch most movies with Hugh Grant. I know it’s sad. He just has that power over me. Notting Hill? The scene in the park? I’m starting to tear up just thinking about it.

The Magician’s Elephant, this book is a treasure part two (same author as above).

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, this is a classic. Everyone has a bad day. Thanks, Alexander, for reminding us all.

I love any book with illustrations from that movie with Robin Williams, Jumanji. Yeah, Zumantra is good too. But his all time best is the picture book, The Chronicles of Harris Burdick. It’s fantastic and great to get a kid’s imagination going or fun to have writing prompts. I do love the picture of the kids on the rail boat, headed to the castle. What will they find there? Why are they going? A picture can take you in a thousand different directions.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go, what’s wrong with putting dreams into a kid’s head? Boy, I want to go to a few places too, South America, Parthenon (Although I hear the one in Tennessee is actually better), etc., And you can’t have a list of great children’s’ books without Dr. Seuss somewhere on it.

Where the Wild Things Are, what’s cooler than this book? The movie didn’t do it justice.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, yeah, like Hugh Grant it will make you cry too… I’m not sure why I cry about a snotty, stuffed rabbit, but I did. I really hated him at the start.

A Wrinkle in Time, another all-time classic I remember. I should give it a read again. It’s been too long.

The Phantom Tollbooth, this is an awesome book. Big Dog. Tollbooth. I’m glad this book is still around so kids know what a tollbooth actually is. Yes, people used to go into this big booth, close it, and make a phone call. Today, we just pick up a cell phone and talk loudly wherever we are, restaurant, while walking in the middle of the street, on the couch, at a baseball game, etc., It’s shocking how many people are texting at baseball games (While writing this, I’m watching the World Series. Three people sitting right behind home plate texting away. You know who you are and should be ashamed of yourself). Sadly, we live in a world where taking selfies at the World Series is more important than watching the game.

Besides being great, what do these tales have in common? They all tell a great story. Share a life lesson. And some are very similar in length, with the exception of the picture books. It seems 35,000 words is the sweet spot.

In writing (or anything really), why start from a blank page when you can learn from what others have done to try/fail/yet ultimately succeed? That’s the beauty of writing. Read for style. And strive for perfection. It’s almost too hard to write a children’s story. Most days, it just creates a no good, very bad day. But I’ll keep at it. The Dark Harp has a story to tell.

These authors sure know what they’re doing. Hopefully, I can make this work too.