Why I Write for Children

(This post was originally written for the OMFLit blog page to celebrate National Children's Book Day, today. I am re-posting it here for my cyber friends.)

Many people think that writing for children is easier than writing for adults. It is not.

I’ve been writing a story on patriotism for years, but failing. To adults, patriotism is love for country, but how do you translate that to kids?

I believe children’s book authors should reduce complex, abstract concepts into simple, concrete images that children can embrace and not misread.

Storybooks for children are deceptively simple. But one needs keener sensitivity and wilder imagination to write them. It takes me an infinitely longer time to write a children’s story than an essay for adults of the same length.

So why insist on writing for children when I can choose writing only “real” books?

Years ago, before leaving the corporate world, I joined the Palanca Awards. Among the competition categories was “Short Story for Children” which required inculcating family and Filipino values in readers aged 8 to 12. That hooked me.

If I were to write for children at all, I mused, I should not simply spin daydreams. The mom in me, too busy to read even one storybook to my three sons when they were little, vowed to write the books I wish I had read to them: stories where they would find tools to love God and His wonderful creation.


Beyond that, I was moved to dip into and share the myriad of bittersweet experiences I had as a child and as a mom. They bounced off my head, and I wrote my first storybook that won my first Palanca award, first prize.

Fifteen years later . . .

The first book in “Happy Home” series—Coming Home—will be launched this July, during the National Children’s Book Day. The series is published by Hiyas, the children’s book imprint of OMF Literature.

Happy Home series revolves around the Zambrano family.  A family is a special household of different people who model what Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.”  No problem is too big nor too small.  A father, a mother, three children (two by blood and one adopted) and a loyal househelp: They worship a loving God and are happy together!

It took me almost a year to write the books in the Happy Home series, and took even longer to polish. Vividly illustrated by Leo Kempis-Ang, these books—and those still to come—hope to make kids value their own family.

If one child can catch that lifelesson, I couldn’t be more blessed.

(This was scheduled for launching at the International Book Fair in September last year, but due to some snags, it was moved to December 20. Another roadblock delayed it. Finally, finally, it's here! Grace defies schedules—it can come anytime and we are grateful, always.)


I believe said...

Yes. I am one frustrated writer when it comes to children's books. I don't even know how children thinks, and going back, my childhood memories are all of early adulthood what with the adult issues I had to face while still a child and the eldest at that. But I do highly respect writers of children's books. I am fond of stories and am reading voraciously but you can tell that I don't really go for fantasy series.I will look forward to buying your books. You know, I have a toddler in my house right now. It's not exactly the perfect family situation but I wonder, any children's book that will speak to children of not exactly perfect situations? I give this to you my writer friend. Will look forward to that as well. Happy National Children's Book Day.

Grace D. Chong said...

Hello, I Believe!

Thank you so much for your message. "Coming Home," the first in the new storybook series--HAPPY HOME--will be available at the Children's Book Fair on July 25, Rizal Library of Ateneo de Manila. I will be there from 2 PM. I'd be delighted if you could come with your toddler. See you?