By Michelle Medlock Adams
Since it’s February—the month we celebrate love—I thought I’d share how I fell in love…with writing for children.
When I graduated from Indiana University with a journalism degree, I couldn’t wait to tackle those hard news stories and make a difference in the world. I had lots of confidence and curiosity—both personality traits needed to become an ace reporter—and so I got my chance writing for a daily newspaper in Southern Indiana. I started working the Police Beat, which was just one step above the obituary writer, and eventually secured a position covering city government and education.
I spent five years in those news reporter trenches before God led our family to Texas, and I began writing features and personality profiles for an international ministry magazine. Little did I know that move would change my life forever.
After a little while on the job, my boss came to me asked, “You have kids, right?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Great, then you can write some kids stories for our children’s page.”
I remember thinking, “Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I know how to write for them.”
But…I was a journalist so I began researching the world of children’s literature and the craft of writing children’s books. The more I researched, the more I fell in love with this whimsical, enchanting genre. And as a journalist, I fell head over heels with the notion of writing nonfiction books for children.
That was more than 20 years and 100 books ago, but I’ve been lovesick ever since.
Creating stories for children—stories that teach, entertain, encourage, and inspire—it’s a noble calling. It’s a privilege that I don’t take for granted, and one that I cherish in my heart. Since you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing you feel the same. But I learned early on, not everyone shares our passion.
I’ll never forget the first time I encountered this truth. I attended a faculty mixer on the eve of a large writers conference, meeting my colleagues and chatting about the industry, when one woman asked, “So, what is it that you’ll be teaching?”
I smiled and said, “I’m teaching a continuing class about the wonderful world of writing for children.”
“Oh,” she mumbled. “You write children’s books…that’s nice.”
With that, she quickly turned her attention to a fellow novelist, and I stood there wondering what had just happened. Truly, I wasn’t as offended as I was shocked—shocked that she didn’t share my love and enthusiasm for children’s writing. But I couldn’t fault her. Not really.
After all, she wasn’t called to write for kids. She didn’t share our love for children’s literature. How could she possibly understand?
Now, I also write for adults, but my heart only pounds with enthusiasm when I am writing board books, picture books, middle grade, and YA manuscripts.
I bet you can relate.
Why do we love it so much? Maybe it’s because we get to encourage children to dream a little bigger, laugh a little harder, feel a little deeper, or care a little more. Or perhaps, because we are writers of nonfiction children’s books, it’s because we get to share true stories that need to be told to a readership eager to learn. We get to educate and inspire with every book we write.
What’s not to love?!
But if you have lost your passion for writing children’s books, reignite that flame by:
Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope your day is filled with roses and chocolates and new story ideas that make your heart pound a little harder.
We are nonfiction authors who support readers and writers through our writing, author visits, and workshops.
The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas and a strong belief in The First Amendment. The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.