Some of the books that have meant a lot to me as a writer for children include:

Writing and Illustrating Children’s Books for Publication by Berthe Amoss and Eric Suben ( Writer’s Digest Books, 1995). This book gives an intriguing and welcoming look into the many stages of creating a picture book, using specific examples from the work of the authors and other creators.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Doubleday, 1994). Anne Lamott has steely determination but she’s a hand-holder, too. Her novels also show an astonishing insight into the lives of children: Rosie features a brave and imaginative seven-year-old protagonist, who we meet about seven years later in Crooked Little Heart.

Another of my favorite books about writing is Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True by Elizabeth Berg. Like Lamott’s book, this is directed to writers in general, but whether your audience is children or adults, writing is writing and many of the issues are the same. Elizabeth Berg writes deeply felt, rather addictive novels (read one, and you’ll look for more) such as Joy School, which is about a girl on the edge of adolescence and love.

Inside Picture Books by Ellen Handler Spitz (Yale University Press, 1999). I was a bit scared when I saw that this was published by an academic press, but the prose is warm and the insights clear. There are fascinating summaries and explorations of many picture book classics, and thoughts on themes such as being scared, happiness, and, of course, the challenge of going to bed.

What Do Authors Do? and What Do Illustrators Do? are written and illustrated by Eileen Christelow (Clarion Books, 1995, 98). These books written for children in a comic-book format give an amusing yet accurate picture of, well, what authors and illustrators do.

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom ed. by Leonard Marcus (Harpercollins, 1998). Even the rejection letters here are the sort writers pine for. Read and weep for the days, before meetings, when one editor in one day could launch a masterpiece.

Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market. (ed. Alice Pope, Writer’s Digest Books). This is a book you’ll want when you’re ready to start sending out an astonishing manuscript.

Web-sites for Writers

SCBWI Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (8271 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90048). An international organization of children’s writers -- a wonderfullly generous and generally inspired group who love to share ideas.

The Purple Crayon: A Children’s Book Editor’s Site
This easy-to-use site is filled with useful articles and it has links to just about everything, including lists of publishers and on-line discussion groups. To learn even more, you can buy Harold’s book: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books (Alpha Books ed. by Harold D. Underdown and Lynne Rominger, 2001).

For information about web-sites of other writers for children, as well as other useful information including publishers’ addresses, check out the Children’s Book Council at www.cbc. org

America Writes for Kids!
Lists author web-sites, which are easily accessible by state -- the place to go if you’re looking for Massachusetts authors, for example!

Children’s Book Author Cynthia Leitich Smith
As well as information about Cynthia Leitich Smith’s books, Jingle Dancer and Rain is Not My Indian Name, you’ll find comprehensive lists of author web-sites, interviews, and articles.

For student writers:
Berit’s Best: By Kids, For Kids
Good sites where kids can learn about writing and publishing are nicely reviewed here.

Poetry Zone ( is based in England, for kids 4-18. It’s a place to publish and also has interviews with poets and teaching ideas.