Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Charles Suddeth & The Mind Of A Child

Please welcome fellow Dancing Lemur Press author Charles Suddeth to the blog today!

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Know your reader, know your age group—getting into a child’s mind 

I am a substitute teacher for the Louisville schools. I sub for anything from pre-school to high school. I also host a monthly Louisville SCBWI Social where newer writers ask about age groups. Here are the age guidelines I use.

Picture Books: Ages 3 to 8. These children cling to me in class. They are Searching for Security. Even while playing, they need to know an authority figure is present to give them love and protection. They enjoy tattling on other classmates—perhaps to reinforce their security. Happy endings are a must for security’s sake.

Middle Reader’s: Ages 8 to 13. These children are sometimes described as crazy. They are not certain who they are or what their abilities are. They do things in groups to obtain peer approval, because they lack self-confidence and self-identity. They are Searching for Identity. Peer pressure is strong, and they never tattle on other students. They love books in series and books about kids in groups to help them find identity. 

Young Adult: Ages 14 to 18. Teenagers are famous for rebellion, sometimes called “attitude.” They are Searching for Independence. Psychologists describe this as psychological efforts to separate themselves from their families to become adults. Teens seldom tattle on students in class, but they will do so if other kids are not watching. They like books about loners or kids fighting the system as in many dystopian novels—independence is the key.

My favorite writing rule is: Take your reader where they are not expecting to go. Once you know your audience you can take them to destinations unknown and even undreamed of. 


Bio and Links:
 
Charles Suddeth has published poetry, picture books, middle reader’s books, young adult thrillers, and adult mysteries in English, Cherokee, and Turkish. He is active with Green River Writers and leads a monthly SCBWI Social. He lives in Louisville and teaches for the Jefferson County Schools. 

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Thanks Charles!

Love that writing rule! 
As another teacher, I agree with your breakdown. It's important to know the needs of the age-groups we are writing for.

How about you? Have you ever written for children? Can you relate to those stages? Do you like when a book takes you in unexpected directions?

18 comments:

  1. Thank you for featuring Charles today!

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  2. How fascinating.
    And intriguing to learn that my inner child (often the healthiest and happies part of me) is all of those ages. Sometimes simultaneously.

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  3. Hi Elephant's Child,
    You have a good point. I am no psychologist, but I suspect that we all have vestiges of these childhood needs. Great to hear from you.

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  4. Hi Jemi,
    Thanks for hosting me today. I hadn't realized you wrote a book on dementia. My wife died from Early Onset Alzheimer's--I was her only caretaker. It almost killed me, but I learned a bunch. I am subbing now, I often sub in ECE classes(exceptional child education)or in institutes for troubled children.

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    1. Dementia is hideous! My book should be out and about in a few months. I'm hoping it can help people dealing with the early stages.
      Sounds like you're in places where they need people who care - the best places to be!

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    2. Good luck on your dementia book. I cared for someone with dementia without help or training and was overwhelmed.

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  5. So I can't write a picture book for 18 years old called The Rebellious Frog?

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    1. Hi Powdered Toast Man: the 1st rule of writing: there are no rules! Go for it! Buck the odds!

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    2. That could be a sideways best-seller! You never know :)

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  6. Congratulation Charles. Your age breakdown is perfect and I love the idea of taking readers where they aren't expecting to go. Jemi, thanks for the introduction.

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    1. Hi Mason, I am glad my post is helpful. Greta to hear from you!

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    2. You're very welcome, Mason! :)

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  7. I think your age guidelines are right on point. Congrats on your book, Charles!

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  8. Jemi, thanks for hosting me. I loved being on your blog!

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