How to Write for Children

4 minutes read

Always wanted to write for children but not sure where to start? Chloe Daykin, critically acclaimed and award-winning children’s author and tutor on Faber Academy's Writing for Children course, shares her tips on writing for a younger audience.



Draw, doodle and be daft. When I start a book I always start from an image. (Which often ends up being the cover – in a beautiful and wonderful cross-collaborative way.) It always really helps me if I get stuck. I come back to that. And it focuses my attention on my original intention.

Do as many exciting and interesting things as possible

Your head is a bit like a sausage machine and all of these will feed in (often in beautiful and unexpected ways). Got to the circus, see exhibitions, plays, do wild and unexpected things!

Read it out loud

This way you’ll be able to hear what’s working and what isn’t. What’s boring and what isn’t. I often think you don’t really know what you think about something until you read it out. Listen for when people zone out or their eyes glaze over. Or when they are HOOKED!

Be brave!

And keep being brave!

Think about what excites you and roll with that

Children tend to respond to authenticity and not dumbing down. Lots of writers write for their younger selves. They write the book they would have wanted to read.


It’s a daft but obvious one. Reading will teach you everything so succinctly! And the books will be there to ask questions to if you need.

Try to be authentic

If you’re writing about a place I really think you should go there. It seems respectful to the place and its people. (I know that can be tricky financially! Though there are lots of brilliant awards to help with that).

Have fun!

The best books are the ones the writers loved writing. That’s what Alice Swan at Faber says and I think it’s true. Fun is infectious and contagious. And a delight! ‘The best things are written fast’ – that’s what David Greig the playwright once told me. ‘It stops the boring conscious brain from getting in the way of the subconscious one.’ When you write in a frenzy it translates. It’s also fun to experiment with tunes and see what effect that has. I like a good dance before I write.

Write from a place of love

This isn’t my idea but the wonderful David Almond’s. And I think it’s really true. Energy in = energy out. Love and tenderness poured in pours out in a beautiful genuine way. And really speaking to the heart is what it’s all about. Nothing’s more intimate than a book. Often books are conversations with ourselves. It’s good to be honest!

Photo of Chloe Daykin, Faber Academy's Writing for Children tutor in Newcastle

Chloe Daykin is a critically acclaimed and award-winning Faber children’s author (and occasional playwright). Chloe’s debut novel Fish Boy was published by Faber in 2017 to critical acclaim. It was nominated for the Carnegie Medal, longlisted for the UKLA and shortlisted for the Branford Boase children’s debut of the year.


Chloe won the inaugural Julia Darling Fellowship to research her second novel The Boy Who Hit Play (Faber, 2018), travelling around the wild icy land of Norway and its many beautiful islands, then journeyed across the otherworldly land of Peru thanks to the support of Arts Council England. Her third novel, Fire Girl Forest Boy, was published in June 2019 by Faber, and won the Gandys Children’s Travel Book of the Year.


Chloe is the tutor on Faber Academy’s Writing for Children course in Newcastle, which begins on 2 May 2024.

Build all the core skills needed to write stories for children in Faber Academy’s inaugural Newcastle Writing for Children course.

In this wide-ranging, adventurous course you’ll cover fiction for children aged six to twelve (with a little experimentation beyond) and benefit from everything Chloe knows about this difficult craft – worlds that keep kids immersed, dialogue that convinces them, humour that gets giggles and more.

You’ll be joined by like-minded writers on your creative journey, as well as benefiting from masterclasses and talks from guests such as the critically acclaimed, bestselling Faber author Emma Carroll. Find out more about the course here.


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