In honor of Children’s Book Week, I created a list of my top ten (plus three) childrern’s books. Some may wonder what criteria I gave for the books that I chose. Here is what I believe makes a good children’s book.
1. Vocabulary: The author doesn’t talk down to the audience. The reader may learn new vocabulary from reading the book. Rockjaw threw the rat over one shoulder, chatting to lieutenant Morio as he did.
‘Wot does the Major mean by arboreal verdance, sah?’
‘Hmm, arboreal verdance, lemme see, I rather think it means treetops, leafy green ones.’
‘Oh! Then why didn’t ‘e say treetops?’
‘Why should he when he knows how t’say words like arboreal verdance?’ Redwall series.
2. Characters: They are memorable and work well together. These are the kind that you want to really get to know and meet in real life. You want to walk into the book to meet them. The hero is real—he makes mistakes and learns from them. “My values are not based on violence. My values are based on courage, which you see time and time again in my books. A warrior isn’t somebody like Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. A warrior can be any age. A warrior is a person people look up to.” ~ Brian Jacques from http://redwallabbey.com/forum/index.php?topic=308.0
3. Protective Character: There is always some wiser and maybe older character to whom the main character can turn to for help. There’s a Gandalf for Frodo, an Uncle Press for Bobby Pendragon, a Draco for Jack, a Mr. Drew for Nancy, or a Firedrake for Ben.
4. Good vs Bad: There is a definite line between good and bad. The two don’t get confused.
5. Plot: The story moves along with lots of action and imagination.
I hope this helps in understanding what makes a good kid’s book. These are things that not only appeal to children, but what they need as they are shaping their world.