Writing For Children

Anybody who writes down to children is simply wasting … time. You have to write up, not down. Children are demanding. Children love words that give them a hard time, provided they are in a context that absorbs their attention.

E.B.White, “The Art of the Essay” (Paris Review, 48, 1969)

… and therein, you have, I think the secret to why E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web continues to delight children (and their parents) more than 50 years after its debut. Reporting from a household where there’s a cardboard box labeled “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig” in the kitchen, a two-year-old who thinks he’s Wilbur, a seven-year-old playing Fern, a dog cast as Charlotte, and a “I’m too cool for this” almost 10-year-old who drops everything and sits down to listen the second “Fern” starts playing the audio book of Charlotte’s Web for the one-hundredth time.

Here, by the way, is a great story by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan about how the book was “spun.”

Charlotte's Web

2 thoughts on “Writing For Children

  1. You are so right! All of these books I have for toddlers never get looked at and it is difficult to find early reading books with good stories. Love Charlottes Web unfortunately we have too many boys and after my oldest the too cool thing dominated and I could not get past the first page. Perhaps if I duct taped them to the couch and made them listen for more than one page they would get hooked!!! LOL

  2. Pingback: Pink and loyal, like Wilbur | nothingbythebook

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