Louise Park was incredibly encouraging and provided extremely useful ways for emerging authors to learn what kids really love, in her talk The Secret World of Kids and How to Hijack It at the Creative Kids Tales Writers’ Festival 2021.
“If you look at the computer games and toys they love, you’ll see the trends of what they are looking for and then you’ll know the magic ingredients that you can use to take reading into their terms,” Louise said and encouraged authors to review surveys and reports that show trends for kids, including the Big W Toy Mania Report.
Louise Park has written several series including Grace’s Secrets, Harriet Clare, the D-Bot Squad, Star Girl, Bella Dancerella, Zac Power Test Drives, Spy Recruit and Boy vs Beast. Louise also writes under pseudonyms H.I.Larry, Mac Park, and Poppy Rose.
Louise explained how the Boy vs Beast series directly used the current trends of computer games that kids love in a variety of elements that made it so very popular, especially with the boys who don’t think they like reading.
“We intentionally chased the reluctant boys with beasts that have types like Pokemon, a lighthouse where he lives by himself and builds rooms and gadgets (Minecraft and other building games) and at the end of the book, he gets scores, just like a computer game.”
“While you don’t have to write quite so intentionally about the trends, you can include references to the trends to make your characters more relatable to the readers.”
Sharing what kids are looking for in both computer games or toys that are popular and in what they then want to read, Louise gave the Creative Kids Tales Writers’ Festival audience a great list to explore in their own writing.
“Kids love fantastic and believable worlds, hero quests (where they have the agency and can conquer), talking animals and creatures, magic, magical lands, make believe, time travel, historical fantasy and grand adventure.”
Several times, Louise noted that children are aspirational and wanted stories where they could achieve more than in their current real life.
“They play to win, build to explore their worlds, want to connect with friends and are aspirational, wanting to be older.”
Louise also shared information from reports on what children like to read.
“Kids like to have characters they could be like, characters that are smart, strong and brave and kids like to have a laugh. Their favourite books are the ones they pick out themselves to read and series fiction is useful because they can come back to the same world again.”
“We need to take reading to them on their terms.”
The Creative Kids Tales Writers’ Festival 2021 provided authors and illustrators with so much practical information and inspiration to keep writing and Louise Park’s presentation was extremely useful for all aspiring and emerging authors.
Report by CKT Author, Hayley Hunkin