I just entered a birthday blog giveaway and realized that picture book writers are pretty good at thinking like a kid.
Just like blog giveaways that usually last a few days to week, kids like to stretch celebrations as long as possible. Because my daughter's birthday is in December, for example, her birthday starts before Christmas, but lasts all the way through New Years.
I asked her what her favorite Christmas Carol was, and she answered, "Happy Birthday!"
From an adult's perspective, it might seem that Christmas, Birthday, and New Years are all the same to her– and it doesn't matter whether the present is wrapped in candy cane paper or if the party hats say 2017. It's all her birthday, right?
From my daughter's perspective, it's all part of the same celebration, but there is a distinction between what is for Christmas and what is for her birthday.
Case in Point: The Birthday Dessert
I've had birthday cakes go moldy before they were eaten by my kids. So I'd given up on making cake for birthdays, and in our house we just celebrated with ice cream. It was a great tradition... each kid got to pick out their favorite flavors of ice cream and we'd still do the singing, and sometimes stick a candle in so the birthday kid could blow it out.
When my girl was turning 4, I asked what she wanted for her birthday, thinking she would pick her favorite ice cream flavor. But she didn't hesitate. "I want a pink cake with pink frosting."
Later she added an ice cream cone on top to her pink cake description. I thought, Oh wait, maybe she's confused because we never have cake. So I asked why.
"For the unicorn," she responded in a how could you not follow this thought voice. Suddenly I got it.
Nope, she wasn't interested in anything remotely Christmasy or that looked like it would ring in the New Year. She also didn't care what anyone else wanted. She knew what she wanted - a pink BIRTHDAY Unicorn Cake.
So I made just that.
Writing from a Kid's POV
Picture books are meant to connect to children, so they need to come from a childlike perspective.
So What Did We Learn?
When writing picture books, we have to put aside our silly grownup ways of thinking. Instead, we must embrace the totally awesome, all-encompassing ways that a child thinks.
And then we tell a story about it.
Oh, yeah, and BTW, that giveaway I told you I'd entered?
How do you think like a kid? Let me know in the comments!
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)