Claudia Osmond ~ Reader, Writer, and Ruminator


In Reading, ruminating, writing on February 20, 2011 at 9:14 am

I saw a unique and very telling review of a book the other day. It wasn’t a review of my book, but it was of a children’s book. The reviewer was evidently the parent of a young child and she said something along these lines:

She thought the book she’d read was clever and she really enjoyed it. But her six-year-old didn’t. And considering it was a picture book and her child was the intended audience, she rated the book accordingly; by giving it a one-star rating.

Think about it. She really enjoyed the book. She thought it was clever. She may even have given it a four or five-star rating, like so many adults before her had already done. But she didn’t. Instead, she chose to read and rate the book via the POV of the intended audience. 

And all I want to say to that is this: Thank you, mom of the one-star rating. You’ve given the opinion of the intended audience precedence. You’ve muted your own inclinations by turning up the volume on the voice that should be heard. And by doing so, you’ve shown that accurately determining the merit of  children’s books requires a lot more insight, wisdom, observation, and astuteness than some people may think. It requires us adults – especially writers of children’s lit – to reach beyond our familiar, if not pretentious, ways of thinking; to dig deeper than our own understanding; to step out of ourselves and view the world around us through the eyes of a younger generation, a generation that doesn’t see the same way we see. It has nothing to do with dumbing-down (*cough* Martin Amis *cough*) but has everything to do with creativity, exercising our intellect, increasing our worldview, making the most of and appreciating fully these wonderful things called words, and mastering the craft. All for the pleasure of an audience other than ourselves. There’s nothing easy or simple about that.

No one loves a one-star rating. But that one really shines.

  1. Great post! Such a great reminder of who we’re really writing for. And such an important thing to bear in mind as we sit down to work on our manuscripts. Out of curiosity, I know we hear all the time that kids aren’t a good judge of what’s good in our WiPs, and that other writers are the only ones whose feedback we should really be listening to. But since kids are our intended audience, I sometimes wonder about that philosophy. What’s your opinion on having a few teens to read your YA work, or elementary students to read your MG stuff, just to get a sense of what they did and didn’t like about it?

    • Hi Ishta,
      I think it’s a great idea to get feedback from your intended audience. In fact, my editor suggested that very thing to me when I had questions of what would work and what wouldn’t. Their feedback can be more accurate, I think, than an adult’s. Of course fellow writers can help you develop the how-to of your writing and are great for bouncing ideas off, but kids are pretty good at letting you know if the story is working or not, as a whole.

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