Monday, July 11, 2016

Writing #Kidlit for Children’s Magazines

This is the handout for the SCBWI New Mexico Shoptalk on Writing for Children's Magazines.

Explore the Magazine Markets:

Children’sWriters and Illustrator’s Market – on sale right now for $7.50!

The SCBWI “Magazine Market Guide” is in The Book, included with membership 

Get magazine samples at your library, school, or house of worship; requests sample copies from the publisher; visit publishers’ web sites – many have online samples.

Lists of children’s magazines w/links to websites: 

Analyze magazines for content and style:

The cover and tagline: what is the magazine’s focus?

The table of contents:
  • Are many articles written by one person? Is that person listed in the masthead as staff?
  • Are there regular departments? Who writes these?
  • This page may include submission guidelines.

  • What types of stories/articles does it use? Be as specific as possible (fiction genres, nonfiction topics, types of activities. For recipes, are they healthy, fun to look at, etc.).
  • Does everything relate to one theme?
  • What is the breakdown of fiction, nonfiction, activities, and regular departments?
  • How long are most pieces?
  • How are pieces illustrated? What kind of sidebars do they use, if any?
  • Does the magazine use advertising? What kinds of products are advertised? (This can give you insight into reader interest, and the magazine’s goals.)

Study several stories or articles. Are they geared toward girls, boys, or both? What age range? What can you tell about the magazine’s style? Is it wholesome or edgy? Is it focused on health, history, science, religion, or celebrity gossip?

Appropriate ideas:

What kind of stories or article would your target magazine want? Either start by figuring out what topics the magazine might like, or write down a list of your hobbies and interests, and then check which ones might fit that magazine. Keep the focus narrow. Then ask:

  •    Is this appropriate for the magazine’s readership age? Will they understand and be interested in the topic?
  •    Can I write this story or article within the magazine’s word limits? Do I need to focus it more?
  •    What is the theme (message) of my story? What will readers take away from my article?
  •    Why would the reader be interested?

The Parts of an Article or Story for Children.

· A catchy title. The best titles hint at the genre or subject matter.

· A dramatic beginning, with a hook. A good beginning:
  • grabs the reader’s attention with action, dialogue, or a hint of drama to come
  • sets the scene
  • indicates the genre and tone (in fiction) or the article type (in nonfiction)
  • has voice
· A solid middle, which moves the story forward or fulfills the goal of the article.
Fiction should focus on plot that builds to a climax, and character development, ideally involving a change in the character as he/she learns the lesson of the story.

An article should focus on information directly related to the main topic. It should be organized in a logical way, with transitions between subtopics. The tone should be friendly and lively, not lecturing. Unfamiliar words should be defined within the text, or in a sidebar.

· A satisfying ending that wraps up the story or closes the article. Endings may circle back to the beginning. The message should be clear here, but not preachy.

· Bonus material: An article or even a story may use sidebars, crafts, recipes, photos, etc. to provide more value.

· For nonfiction, include a bibliography with several reliable sources.

Types of articles:

Personal Experience


Current Events/News/Politics
Popular Culture/Fashion/Lifestyle
History/Culture/Multicultural Issues

The series What Your _X_ Grader Needs to Knowfor each grade level, can help identify appropriate topics for each grade level. 

Common Core State Standards Initiative provides links to all the CCSS standards.

Core Knowledge Sequence: Content and Skill Guidelines for Preschool-Grade 8 is available as free download.

Reading Level

Microsoft Word: Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level - Search for “display readability statistics” in the Help menu.
LEXILE: (You sign up but it’s free.)
Lexile with word highlights:
ATOS for Books analyzer: (also free)
Children’s Writer’s Word Book

About Chris Eboch

Chris Eboch’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced PlottingLearn more at or her Amazon page.

Chris’s book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots. You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers offers an overview on writing for young people. Learn how to find ideas and develop those ideas into stories, articles, and books. Understand the basics of character development, plot, setting, and theme – and some advanced elements, along with how to use point of view, dialogue, and thoughts. Finally, learn about editing your work and getting critiques.

Chris offers critiques of picture books/short stories/articles up to 1500 words for $40. Novel critiques are $2 per page (standard double-spaced manuscript format; minimum $100). Get details and recommendations at

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. 

Read excerpts at or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.