After all, your audience may be pre-literate.
That is the myth, isn't it? Trying to tell a compelling story in a very short format is extremely hard, and especially difficult is creating a story that both parent and child will want to read over and over again.
What Lynn said.
Writing for kids is quite difficult. The younger you go, the harder it is. I have a huge respect for those who can write effective picture books because that's not a talent I possess. :)
You have more leeway with MG or YA, but that's still difficult because EVERYTHING in the story has to be there for a reason. If it doesn't, you lose your reader. Plus, you can tackle difficult topics but you have to execute them in an age-appropriate manner.
There are so many nuances in writing for kids and teens that you *need* a solid grasp of the craft of writing in order to do it effectively.
Interesting question. Here's a link to an interview conducted with some Pixar writers. There are a couple of soundbites in there that, to paraphrase, say the creators of Pixar's stories write for themselves, though with the audience in mind.
In writing this collection of poems for kids and working with teachers, elementary school administrators, and a reading specialist designing lesson plans for poems, I've found an odd interaction between the poems kids respond to, the poems I want to write, and the poems the adults think will and won't be liked by the kids. And, for the most part, the adults tend to be way off, and the poems the kids like the most are the poems I enjoyed writing the most.
Add to that discussions I've had with adult authors writing for adults, many of which share this opinion, and it seems more like you have a common misunderstanding among adults: that writing for kids is easy when, in fact, it's just a different kind of writing, and it's not easy to do, and most adults underestimate its difficulty by undervaluing kid lit.
So to answer the question: No. Writing for kids is not easy, I'd actually argue it's harder than writing for adults. Check this out, for example.
Todd, that's interesting about adults being way off about the poems children like. I think adults don't often put themselves in children's shoes - they don't think about how they felt at that particular age. And then again, kids these days have a totally different frame of reference than previous generations - technology with its possibilities and its dangers. So this generation of kids perceive things very differently, and we adults have to use our imaginations to put ourselves in their shoes.
It's actually funny; I edited out a line from my earlier post about how I feel the "tech" argument is irrelevant, since tech is just a different platform in how media is consumed. I know there's a huge discussion to be had concerning cold media and retention and whatnot, but I'm just not sure it applies here.
Let me clarify my earlier post: I didn't mean to say I somehow had insight into the minds of children, and together we "get" my work more than adults. I meant to say that adults had an impression of my poetry that kids would like some poems more than others, and they were generally wrong. The poems I enjoyed writing, and the poems the adults enjoyed reading the most, were also the poems the kids enjoyed to hear the most. So while there is a disconnect, I don't think it's in preference, I think it's in the impression of what adults think of kid lit and what kids think of it. If anything, the best work speaks to both groups, which is why YA books are doing so well selling to adults.
Todd, I did understand what you were meaning about adults thinking that kids would enjoy certain poems that you wrote and instead kids enjoyed other poems more. I just find it interesting that the way many adults perceive children is not the way children perceive themselves at all.
About the technology argument, I don't think it's about the fact that technology is just a different way in which media is transmitted. 'For me, the technology is more about the life experience and the life lessons that go with it. For example, when I was growing up, I knew not to talk to random strangers in isolated places. Nowadays,kids have to realise that even in the safety of their own homes, they can still be in danger by cyber stalkers and online predators. This fact provides a different type of life experience for the child, and this in turn would influence how they perceive the world, who they identify with and what books they choose to read. That's my take on it.
It's interesting you mention adult perceptions and young adult perceptions in digital socialization. Like, based on the media and personal experience, I'd be more likely to think young adults ARE the online predators, ha. Cyber bullying's one example, but if you want something more immediate, try playing (or, well, listening to) an online game of Call of Duty on the XBOX 360. I think in my first few minutes of play, I was cussed out more and received more crass messages from young adults than any given year of my high school days, and now I get friend requests and invites to play games and try out demos all the time.
I don't think it's easier than writing for an older readership. You have to express yourself in ways that can be comprehended and appreciated by a very young readership, which reduces some of your "techniques" as a writer. And I believe that writing for kids is an awesome responsibility - after all, our world will be in their hands since they're the next generation, and we have to realise that it is a great gift and a great responsibility to shape who they will become through books.
"You have to express yourself in ways that can be comprehended and appreciated by a very young readership, which reduces some of your "techniques" as a writer."
Actually, it doesn't. It increases because you have to get the same amount of information across using fewer words. The younger you go, the more technique you need in order to effectively get your story across. The older you go, the more leeway you have and less technique you need. I think the same concept applies to poetry--the best poetry packs a wallop in only a few sentences. The shorter it is, the harder it is to write. The longer it is, the more wiggle room you have.
I agree with the comment about putting ourselves in the shoes of the kids who will be our readers. That was exactly my frame of mind when I designed the series of early chapter books that I wrote. I thought back to what really interested me as a young reader (things like hidden panels leading to secret passageways, magical buttons that would transform the world in the story, and mysteries that the characters had to figure out). I hoped that even though a lot of years had passed that kids still were interested in that type of thing. Based on the responses I get from kids in my school visits, I'm making a hit. Based on overall sales, that remains to be seen. :o)