little girl writing book in classroom

Kids as OwnVoices Authors

Have you ever wondered why there are not many titles written and or illustrated by children in the books market? Well, I have. Since I am an experienced grade school educator, loyal fan, children’s advocate, and now an aspiring book publisher, I felt the responsibility to uncover the answer to this question. At the beginning of my search, I was not certain if there was a significant amount of books from this market niche that I was overlooking somehow as a consumer. It is hard to believe that there would not be lots of published stories written by kids, who are natural storytellers. Kids are known for their vivid imaginations and creativity. I believe that in this immense and broad business of books there should be a vast representation of this talented and valuable crowd; plus, isn’t it important for kids to read books not only for kids but by kids?

Books written by children are not easy to find. The most comprehensive data is found in “List of books written by children or teenagers,” on Wikipedia, where most of the authors are between ages thirteen and twenty-one. After taking the names of authors twelve or younger from that list and adding a few authors from other sources such as blogs, I came up with a total of thirty authors. Only about thirty young writers were published in almost a century from 1927 to 2021; a very scarce number considering that during 2020, reported in “Number of writers and authors in the United States from 2011 to 2020,” there were over 44.2 thousand surveyed writers and authors working in the United States alone.

Often children feel that there is no value in putting great effort into writing if there will be no more satisfaction than a school grade or, if they are lucky, recognition from a teacher or family member. I encountered comments from kids that clearly state their cry for the opportunity to publish their voices to the world. Young writers are motivated to improve their writing skills when they start considering the opinion of an audience. When they know that readers have expectations about what they are writing, they will write with a purpose.

Ishita Katyal, a girl who gave a speech at TEDx in “Experiences of a twelve-year-old author | Ishita Katyal |,” spoke about her journey as a young writer, her thoughts, feelings, struggles, and achievements. Ishita said that she wondered why she couldn’t use her writing to make a difference in the world. I also found Joshua T. Jones, an amazing ten-year-old author, who expressed that his motivation was to inspire others to avoid bullying at his school. So much insight and inspiration from these young, brave minds!

In “Young Writers as Critical Readers,” a journal article published by the National Council of Teachers of English, Thomas Newkirk highlights the importance for young readers to write stories of their own. Based on his study, this practice supports critical thinking and evaluative skills and improves the concept children have about written stories.

When young readers see themselves represented, they are motivated to write their own stories. Schools and libraries should be well supplied with a high inventory of books for children by children. These books should even have a special location where they are highlighted, promoted, and easy to find. In “30 Books Written by Kids,” where they were presenting the book of a young author, a child had emailed the author saying, “It’s my favorite book. I’ve read it five times . . . I did a book report about it for school . . . I made a sculpture of Blue, the water dragon. Here’s a photo . . . Can’t wait for the sequel . . .”

In order to make this market niche grow, children need to be guided into getting a better understanding of how books are written by regular people and that they can do it as well. They should also be given an audience to write to; but, more importantly, they need encouragement to pursue having their titles published. Publishers should open doors to this group of creative storytellers and give them support throughout the process.

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