Writing Children's Stories for Adults
What are children’s stories for adults? Don’t adults have their own grown-up stories? Well, perhaps adults still need whimsical tales to reboot their imaginations every once in a while.
Consider, for a moment, movies in which the visuals are dazzling, plots are thick, humor is quick, emotional strings are tugged, villains and heroes collide, and characters’ lives hang in the balance. Would you assign such a movie anything less than a PG rating? Yet, we find these very attributes in today’s animated movies…catering to the sensibilities of both children and adults. Watch such cinematic treasures as Moana, The Incredibles, Frozen, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. In each, the whit is sophisticated enough to keep the interest of an adult, yet its premise obvious enough to appeal to a young child. The soundtrack is easy for children to sing along with, while the meaning of the lyrics often lands with an older audience. I find myself watching these movies over and over again as an adult, laughing and crying.
My goal with Ecopsyched! Stories is to cast as broad an age-range appeal as Pixar’s, capturing the hearts of young and old. Okay, I’m reaching, but it’s a goal. However, preliminary feedback shows that my stories primarily appeal to adults. This is not necessarily a flaw. My first intention is to ingratiate my stories with adults. In fact, the first rule of writing in ‘children’s books’ is to appeal to adults. Adults offer the first eyes (and ears) to review your story. Understanding this, I still hope adults are playing my podcast stories for their children. I want to share nature stories with humans of all ages.
I asked a close friend to listen to my stories and provide feedback. She is mom and a grade school media specialist, experienced with the literary mind of a child. She provided valuable feedback on one of my stories, advising that I develop my main character further. She explained that children need descriptive and colorful language in a story so they can imagine themselves inside it, taking on the role of the main character. She’s right about my story. In this particular episode, Walter Under Waves, I focused on developing the family unit instead of the main character.
My intent is to engage both adults and children. Am I writing with only adults in mind?
To be fair, I realize not many young children are adding to online podcast analytics with comments and reviews. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are not listening and providing feedback to their adults. I’m hopeful that this is the case. And I look forward to the day when I figure out how to gather more detailed feedback from my audience. I’m learning!
Still, I had to pose the question: Are Ecopsyched! Stories actually children’s stories for adults? The answer became clear—they are. Now, what should I do about this, if anything?
Will this audience revelation early into my first season of Ecopsyched! Stories change the way I approach my style of storytelling? I will move forward with the following intentions and awareness.
- I will seek opportunities to grow while staying true to my Ecopsyched! initiative. I will acknowledge the importance of every line of feedback I receive. And I will expand my efforts to collect data in order to create content that’s valuable to others.
- I am intrigued by the idea of writing children’s stories for adults. However, I will be mindful of developing my main characters and settings with descriptive language that appeals to younger listeners.
- Sharing nature-inspired stories with adults makes me happy. I also wish to share an appreciation for nature with children. I remind myself that there is no better person to impart these ideals to children than the adults in their lives. If my nature stories have a trickle-down effect, wonderful!
- As a playful adult, I enjoy being entertained by storytelling. I think most folks do. It humbles me to think that my stories might tug on the emotions of my contemporaries. And writing children’s stories for adults just so happens to be great big fun.
- Ecopsyched! is as much for me as for my audience. It’s my passion project. I believe in the Ecopsyched! initiative—to encourage nature reconnection and appreciation for the benefit of humans and the more-than-human world.
It’s not uncommon to retract from constructive criticism when you’re first starting out, when you’re most unsure. But read every line of feedback, do! Your audience is at least half your reason (you are the other half). And feedback from people with more experience, even if only slightly ahead of you on the path, is invaluable.
Yes, feedback is critical for growth, but don’t forget why you started your project. Stay true to that passion while your initiative evolves (it will). If you haven’t already, write that mission statement! Read it once a day. Massage it a little as you go. But give it a chance to blossom before you mold your venture into someone else’s vision.
As I write future stories, I will keep the perspectives of my younger listeners in mind. I will also fully embrace writing children’s stories for adults (and the children in their lives). It’s clear that it’s my thing.
Ecopsyched!’s Mission Statement:
Ecopsyched! is a storytelling project rooted in nature reconnection and appreciation for the benefit of humans and the more-than-human world. Podcast episodes include Ecopsyched! nature recordings and a new season of original children’s stories for adults (and the children in their lives).
Learn more about the Ecopsyched! intiative here.
Do you listen to Ecopsyched! Stories? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
Are you an adult who listens to Ecopsyched! Stories? Do you listen on your own, or with a child in your life? Please leave a comment about your Ecopsyched! experience below so I can grow!
Check out the Ecopsyched! Stories page for heartwarming tales of humans and nature. And share feedback on the episode page (or on the episode post on the Ecopsyched! Facebook page) so I can create more stories with you in mind!
May your imagination take you on adventures for treasure and treasured adventures.
Thanks for reading. 🙂