What? Do you really have to research a book for kids? I mean, they're not sophisticated in any way. What's the difference?
Of course, we all know kids deserve better than what's written in the paragraph above. But the question still remains, "How much research?" And the answer is, As much as it takes for accuracy. Complete accuracy.
When I begin a child's fiction or non-fiction book, research is pivotal. Whether I'm writing about pelicans harmed in an oil spill, manatees being rounded up for food or a mystery in Namibia, the facts must be accurate, straightforward and compelling.
Although the Internet has made research a dream (I remember 4x6 inch cards in a box), the sources must be stellar. I use sites such as National Geographic, Moat Aquarium, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to name but a few
|Katrina and Nancy researching material for Katrina|
and Winter: Partners in Courage
Another way I research is to read other children's books on the same topic. Analyzing authors’ styles, how they build scenes, develop characters and advance their plots has been a wealth of information. It needs to built around the excellent research you've found.
When you come to the story, biography, narrative non-fiction or straight non-fiction, with all your research well and truly in place, the sky's the limit. Have fun, be creative, let your mind soar, all safe in the knowledge you're creating a worthwhile piece of literature that rings true from beginning to end