Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post: On Writing Short, Scary Stories for Children

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I love the world of children’s literature. Over the years I have written picture books, activity books, middle grade, YA, biographies, and nonfiction. My favourite genre is scary short stories for middle grade and YA. Picture book author, Mem Fox, once said, “Writing for children is like writing War and Peace in haiku.” I think that’s hilarious but true. A short story obliges the writer to develop characters and plot concisely, while still telling a tale that is fun to read.

When writing a scary story I’m careful to choose a theme that young readers can relate to, and to frame it from a child’s point of view. I usually begin by sketching out the plot beginning to end. Rules can always be bent, but in general, a short story has the typical structure of any work of fiction including the opening, conflict, rising action, climax and resolution, all in about 2500 words or less. The first step is to get everything on paper. The next step is to craft it.

Author Kurt Vonnegut suggested that a short story should begin as close to the end as possible. That’s good advice. A long, drawn out opening won’t hook a reader. The first line should immediately invite the child to enter the world in which the story takes place. Because economy of words is a plus, my goal is to use the most effective language to create the tone and mood quickly. In most scary tales the setting is a character in itself, but I try to find ways to show it without lengthy description.

Each sentence should move the action forward or reveal something about the characters. Still, short doesn’t mean simplistic. It’s essential to give the character a good reason to go into the creepy basement or sneak out to the amusement park at night! If his or her behaviour isn’t believable then the story won’t ring true. For young readers, the main character should succeed or not based on their own choices and decisions. No fair having someone or something else rescue them at the last moment.

Finally, good writing is rewriting so the last stage of crafting a short story is editing. This is the time to be certain that every sentence serves a purpose and every word is as precise as possible to deliver the spooky thrills and chills the reader is anticipating!


 

About the Author: Q.L. Pearce is the author of over 150 books for children, including YA and Middle Grade fiction and non-fiction. She specialises in scary stories, which is evident in her hit series Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs. She has won numerous awards for her work, including the Carter G. Woodson gold medal and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. Her multi-award winning book, Red Bird Sings received praise from Publisher’s Weekly, the School Library Journal, and the Library Media Connection.

 

Find out more about Q.L. on her

 

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Guest Post: How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

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kidsreadingImage: Shutterstock

 

How Technology Has Changed the Way Children Discover the Joy of Reading

It doesn’t take a team of scientists to tell us that children holding tablets and iPhones before they can speak has substantially changed the way they interact with the world. The research has been done, but it’s fairly obvious that the switch from wooden blocks to a full on digital device is a force to be reckoned with.

So what has changed exactly?

Access to instant information has trained us to be satisfied when we are constantly engaged, but more importantly, entertained in every second. For new readers, this can be distracting for the learning process. It takes careful motivation and time for the development of comprehension and practical application to cross over the digital barrier and enrich new readers to pick up reading with an appetite on their own.

 

Attention Spans

The digital age has shortened the human attention span to eight seconds, and it’s had a big effect on kids too, as studies show that, on average, children from ages 6 to 12 spend an average of six hours a day in front of screens. After a while that can mean big changes to learning styles, but in this day and age, you don’t have to fight the statistics but can embrace them.

Matching your child’s interest in digital devices with reading is an excellent way to reach them on a level they will be excited about, and excitement and independence are the ways to get lifetime readers (both things your kids can achieve through reader technologies). Letting them navigate ways to read titles that interest them, allowing them access to books when it interests them, and also maintaining that they are reading at their level will build voracious readers that can’t get enough of the written word.

A couple of good things to remember about tablets however is that tuning out is as important as tuning in, so moderation and supplementation with exercise, plenty of time for play outside away from the tablet and a healthy diet with plenty of fluids are the best ways to raise healthy kids that don’t become unnaturally addicted to screen time.

 

Apps

The good news about digital reading comes down to apps. Between interactive games and e-readers, getting your kid to read on a tablet combines two things that really are better together: the latest technology and one of the oldest taught skills. Together, they improve minds, expand horizons and make for brighter futures. Here are a few apps that are likely to help out any new reader:

  • MeeGenius: Working on iOS, Android and Google Play, MeeGenius allows readers to highlight words that might need a little more time, and then go back to review them with audio, as well as providing a personalization element that will substitute the main character’s name with your child’s name. It’s a great tool for the younger set still learning how to read, and it comes free with book selection.
  • Tikatok StorySpark: As Barnes & Noble’s kid-friendly app, Tikatok StorySpark combines a lot of great elements for an app that will fully engage any new reader who also wants to take a stab at playing author. Kid’s can write and publish their own stories, using their own drawings or uploading digital backgrounds, and then they can upload their finished product to com for publication.
  • Tales2Go: This app is a winner due to its inclusion of thousands of titles that you can take wherever your tablet can go (hint the name!) and is well-beloved by parents who don’t want to pack a bunch of bedtime books for every adventure. Bookmark favorites, scroll through genres and save yourself a little library on Tales2Go—it’s ideal for the reader who can’t get enough of the favorites but also likes the option to browse.
  • A Story Before Bed: A Story Before Bed app is a great one for readers who dig the nighttime storytelling experience. It allows readers to access 300 titles and then uses a video recording to save the goodnight reading session. It’s perfect for going back to relive some of the best stories you have shared together whenever.

 

Mobile Opportunities

Busy families can benefit from the mobile opportunities that a tablet reader provides, and if you don’t want to have your kid slinging around your new iPad Air, tablet devices for kids exist for that very reason.

Try a model such as the V.Reader, which is perfect for toddlers just getting their hands on a book or two. It comes with software cartridges that let you monitor what they’re reading and provides them with plenty of interactive games. For older readers, the Amazon’s bundled e-reader includes achievement benchmarks that monitor your child’s progress and comes with access to over 250,000 titles and the ability to access e-books from their libraries. With the Amazon reader you can also download PDF books whenever you run out of options, so try international titles from around the world. Sounds like a great start, right?

It may seem as if the world is coming to an end since the tablet’s arrival, but really it’s just an opportunity for us all to evolve—something we’ve historically been very successful at. Why not do it with reading?

How has technology impacted your child’s reading? Do you have any other apps you would suggest? Share with us in the comments below!

 

About the Author: Caroline is a passionate reader and technology guru who writes for CultureCoverage.com and SecureThoughts.com. She is constantly in search of the best new book, the latest in technology and the ultimate guide on how to gracefully get out of weekend plans so she can remain at home in bed with a good read.

Web: www.culturecoverage.com
Twitter: @CultureCovC