How do young readers bond with a story?
Children’s authors have a responsibility to connect with and engage the emotions of their readers. One way to achieve this is by crafting relatable characters. These characters often face obstacles that readers themselves may be experiencing in their own lives, such as bullying, family problems, having family members move away, or self-doubt. Sharing these types of personal experiences allows readers to see themselves in story. And by reading how characters overcome challenges, readers can be inspired to do the same in their own lives.
6 Tools Writers Use to Connect with their Audience
- Use Relatable Characters: Crafting relatable characters who face similar obstacles that readers experience in their own lives allows readers to see themselves in the story and feel empowered. [Paired with YOU HOLD ME UP by Monique Gray Smith; individual family members hold up the main character.]
- Use Vivid Imagery: Using details that tickle the senses help to create a more immersive reading experience. By painting an authentic, detailed picture of the setting, characters, and events, authors invite readers to fully engage their imaginations. [Paired with FRY BREAD by Kevin Noble Maillard; each spread describes fry bread in a unique way]
- Use Humor: Humor engages readers of all ages. A well-timed joke or humorous situation can create a positive emotional connection between the reader and the story. [Paired with GRANDMA’S TIPI by S.D. Nelson; a scene that explains “Heyokas are clowns who do things backward in life.”]
- Use Dialogue: Dialogue that humanizes characters and makes them more relatable to the reader. [Paired with JO JO MAKOONS series by Dawn Quigley; But I asked her, “Grandma, you have so many friends. How can I make more friends?”/Grandma answered, “Well, you don’t have to try to be friends with everyone…”]
- Use Universal Themes: Children’s experiences vary widely, but there are certain themes that are universally relatable. Friendship, family, and growing up are just a few examples that can create an emotional connection between the reader and the story. [Paired with FOREVER COUSINS by Laurel Goodluck; two close cousins are separated when one moves away]
- Use the Element of Surprise: To craft a story that readers won’t be able to put down, authors tap the readers curiosity with suspense and surprise. By keeping readers guessing about what will happen next, authors can create excitement that will keep young readers turning the pages. [Paired with CONTENDERS by Traci Sorell; two Native professional baseball players face off in the 1913 World Series]
Children’s authors can create stories to connect with young readers by using these tools. When the story captures the readers’ hearts, it leaves a lasting impact on their lives. They become lifelong readers!