By Yvonne Blackwood ~
The English language is so complex, it is difficult to imagine anyone knowing all of its nuances. As I pursue studies in an English Major degree, I am learning more and more how complex it truly is. As you write your children’s picture books you will develop an appreciation for words and their nuances.
In the meantime, the million-dollar question is, why do we write books for children? Author, Ann Morris, summed it up succinctly when she wrote, “The stories themselves are to promote vocabulary and language skills, entertainment, learning experiences, subject matter, social skills, and any number of skills in the early reader.” With such wide-ranging reasons, the writer must utilize certain skills in order to achieve any of these goals.
Let us determine that your Johnnie Rabbit stories are intended to help children learn to read, to teach them about rabbits and also to entertain. How can these seemingly varied reasons be incorporated into a children’s picture book? Literary devices are important tools that authors use, and they are numerous. Since you are writing for children, we will focus on only a few that are appropriate for this genre.
Onomatopoeia: These are words that sound the same as, or similar to the meaning of the word. For example, in part # 8 of this series of articles, I wrote that “Charlie heard the TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP of many feet.” Children identify with sounds. Other words like “buzz” and “POP” can inject great emotion into a story.
Alliteration: Repeating the same letter or consonant sound at the beginning of consecutive or closely connected words. Children go wild when they hear or have to repeat, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
Personification: This occurs any time a non-human takes on characteristics of a human in a story. You have already done so by making Johnnie Rabbit anthropomorphic, but you can take personification even further; you could allow the vegetables on farmer Jones’ property to think and speak!
A Simile: A figure of speech in which you compare two things that are very different. By so doing, you can make a description vivid for young readers. In part # 8 of theses articles I used the simile, “The farmer laughed like Bugs Bunny.” Any child reading this sentence would quickly visualize Bugs laughing and identify with how the farmer must have laughed.
Imagery: descriptive language that paints vivid pictures in the reader’s mind and at the same time evokes the senses. This is achieved by employing adjectives, adverbs and words carefully. A good example is a sentence in the upcoming, Nosey Charlie Chokes On A Wiener, “As Charlie roamed about the park he smelled the delicious aroma of hot dogs cooking on a grill.”
While these literary devices and several others can be appropriately used in children’s picture books, there are a few you should avoid. Do not use flashbacks, flash-forwards, oxymorons, and satire in this genre.
Coming very soon; Charlie is at it again in Nosey Charlie Chokes On A Wiener!