Writing Prompts for the Young at Heart
Stories and poems for children are among the most magical and delightful written works in the literary canon.
Children’s literature has a universal appeal; the phenomenal international popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies is a testament to the power of children’s stories.
But there plenty of other works that affirm the longevity of children’s literature: nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and classics such as Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, and everything Dr. Seuss ever wrote.
Most of us writers first fell in love with the written word when we were children. Stories carried us on fantastical adventures. Words danced and soared through our imaginations. Many of us never grew out of the poems and stories we first cherished. We continue to enjoy them, and we pass them on to our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Today’s writing prompts celebrate children’s literature and pay tribute to the young and the young at heart.
These writing prompts are filled with childlike wonder. Use them to write a poem, a story, or anything else that comes to mind.
- Mythological Creatures
- Dragons, unicorns, fairies, and mermaids. Trolls, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Lore, legend, and myth are heavily populated with mythological beasts and creatures.
- Maybe a character in your story discovers and befriends a legendary creature. Or maybe one of these creatures is the main character in your story. Better yet, invent a mythological creature of your own.
- Magic Portals
- Alice went down the rabbit hole and found herself in Wonderland. Lucy stepped through the wardrobe and into Narnia. Wendy, John, and Michael were sprinkled with pixie dust, which enabled them to fly off to Neverland. All great adventures begin somewhere, and some of the best stories start out in the ordinary world and then take readers through a portal to a fantastically magical place.
- How do your characters get from one world to another? Create your own magic portal, and then, if the mood strikes, build the fantastical world beyond.
- Silly Nonsense
- The nonsense of writers like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein is a wonder to behold. What is it about their stories and poems that delight children? Much of their work defies logic and is purely nonsensical. But it is riddled with wondrous images and language that rolls off the tongue like music.
- Forget about the laws of physics and the rules of the real world. Write a bit of silly nonsense in prose or verse. Fill it with unusual but mesmerizing characters and images and try to make it rhyme!
- Loving Lessons
- Children’s literature is often full of simple, useful lessons. But presenting a lesson without sounding preachy, whiny, or nagging is anything but easy. These stories have to be fun and intriguing, and the best lessons are not immediately obvious.
- Think of a lesson or value that you’d like to impart to children, then build a story around it. Better yet, just write a story for children and see if holds a message within it.
- Nursery rhymes like “Hey Diddle Diddle” and “Ring Around the Rosie” have captivated children for centuries. They are often nonsensical and always easy to remember and fun to sing.
- Write a nursery rhyme from scratch. If you get stuck, use an existing nursery rhyme for your rhythm and meter, and then make up new words for it.
Some Tips for Using These Writing Prompts:
- Children’s writing uses simple language and made-up words.
- Nothing speaks to children like bright, vivid images and lively characters.
- Use rhyme and other musical devices and choose words that are fun to say.
Do you still read children’s poems and stories? Do you remember the ones you loved best as a child? Have you ever tried writing for kids? Do these writing prompts inspire you? Share your thoughts in the comments, and keep writing!