Guidelines for Writing Children’s Books

Standard

Many new writers are unaware there are guidelines and rules for numbers of pages or words per type of literature as well as specific ages each category applies to. Listed below is a compilation of some of these guidelines.

PICTURE BOOKS for  ages 3-6, fiction/nonfiction: standard is 32 pages with up to about 600 words. This includes text and illustrations.

PICTURE BOOKS for ages 4-8, fiction/nonfiction: average of 32 pages (can go up to 40 pages for older readers) or up to about 1000 words including text and illustrations. No controlled vocabulary since meant to be read aloud to children.

EASY READERS for ages 5-9, fiction/nonfiction: generally run from 32-64 pages with text running from 100 words to about 2000 words. Geared for children beginning to read independently these books usually include illustrations. Stories should include dialogue and action. Can include a few words per page up to chapters.

FICTION PICTURE BOOKS for ages 6-10: can be up to 1400 words with about 40 pages. Geared for third through fifth grade classrooms. Intended for teachers to use as tie-in with school subjects.

NONFICTION PICTURE BOOKS for ages 8-12: with 48 pages and up to 2000 words, these books are aimed at the middle grade reader. Illustrated with photographs or drawings, maps, etc. they often include sidebar information.

CHAPTER BOOKS for ages 6-10: these average 6,000-15,000 words with 64-96 pages. Most have black & white illustrations. They are short novels divided into about four chapters and should utilize dialogue and action. Characters are usually the same age as the reader.

MIDDLE GRADES for ages 8-12, fiction/nonfiction: usually run 84-150 pages long with about 20,000-35,000 words. Fiction has no illustrations; Nonfiction includes black & white drawings or color photos. Characters should be 10-13 years old.

UPPER MIDDLE GRADES for ages 10-14, fiction/nonfiction: these run slightly longer to about 40,000 words. Characters are typically ages 12-15 with more intense conflict than MG books.

YOUNG ADULT for ages 12+, fiction/nonfiction: most average 150-200 pages with about 40,000-60,000 words. Characters are generally in high school and conflicts reflect situations/problems typical to that age group. Nonfiction explores subject aimed at 8th grade and above.

YOUNG ADULT for ages 14+, fiction/nonfiction: these average 150-300 pages with up to 90,000 words. While characters are generally in high school, some may be older, like in college. Conflicts should still reflect situations/problems the reader expects to have to deal with eventually. Nonfiction is the same as above.

POETRY: Poetry can be targeted for any age reader from PICTURE BOOK to ADULT. Many PICTURE BOOKS tend to rhyme anyway and should revolve around an image or action specific to the young reader. YOUNG ADULT poetry tends to be anthologies or collections and can be more open-ended and abstract.

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9 responses »

  1. Hi! I found this VERY helpful…I was wondering if anybody could tell me what happens if you are over or under the limit???
    I have written a ficion middle-grade manuscript but it only totals up to about 15, 000 words. Do I need to lengthen it somehow???

  2. Pingback: Guidelines for Word Count for Children’s Books « Anita Nolan's blog

  3. Pingback: Guidelines for Writing Children's Books « Ramblings of a Raconteur | Drakz Free Online Service

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