Writing for Kindergarten Readers

Since I’m having so much fun writing a story for kindergarteners, I thought I’d share some of what I’m learning.

I started two stories for the Children’s Writer Contest, but I’m pretty sure they are not going to work for this young age. So I thought I’d focus on the words first, instead of the story plot first.

According to Alijandra and Tayopa Mogilner, the authors of Children’s Writer’s Word Book, the kindergarten student’s vocabulary centers around one-syllable words under six letters long, and the sentences need to be VERY short. Many of the short sentences are technically only phrases, but they are what kiddies at this age need.

What I did to get the feel for one of these stories is read her example story over and over until I got the rhythm. Then I started with the A words and looked at each word in the list of acceptable kindergarten words, hoping for inspiration.

Then I took a break and went into the library. Actually, I was already sitting in the parking lot of the library with books to return, and wasn’t allowing myself to actually go inside until I’d written a story. But the dark clouds came and the wind whipped up and I remembered the weather forecast was for thunderstorms, so I went inside after only writing a few phrases.

I looked at four “X” books, early readers, level 1, and the feel of the short sentences got locked in my head. I checked out those books, went back out to my car, opened up that list of kindergarten words again and browsed through them again. Soon I had the germ of an idea for a story. I wrote down some phrases and short sentences, but many of the words for my first ideas weren’t allowed because they were too advanced. So I had to look up the words in the “thesaurus” section of Children’s Writer’s Word Book—what a brilliant idea the authors had, to find other words at the reading level you need—and I began to re-think how else I could express my thoughts within the restrictions of the simplest words.

I started driving home, and at each light, I’d jot down a few words and phrases that had popped into my head since the last light. Now that I’m having fun imagining this story, I have enthusiasm and momentum!

Are you writing for early readers? Let me know what works for you!

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