Writing for your children: a powerful motivation

Have you ever wanted to write a story for your own children? You're not alone. The thought of writing for your children can be a daunting idea, but I think this notion is more wide-spread than many realize. It is in fact, a common desire many parents have.

When we reach adulthood, marry, and have children of our own, it is natural for us to look back with nostalgia to those wonderful memories we still carry from our own childhoods. As we watch our children play, and we can't help being drawn back into our own early memories. We can recall so many of our own toys, now long gone, and the great thrills of joy we had...the wild imaginative adventures they took us on. It is the same when we read to our children, or observe them smiling as they read a chapter book. We can't help but remember those books and stories that moved us so powerfully, that deepened our understanding of the world...that gave us strength...that helped us overcome fears, even a fear as large as loosing a parent.

The desire to pass on knowledge, to comfort, and to share hard won wisdom with those in need isn't just the nature of a parent, but it is human nature. But this multiplies significantly when the person in need is intimately close to us. Children our full of needs...the need for wisdom and knowledge as they grow, and the need of comfort as they begin their journey into an often vicious and harsh world. It is only natural that the idea should come to a parent to write a book, inspired by the needs of their children.

For example, author D. Barkley Briggs was the parent of four boys when he lost his wife of sixteen years. For Briggs, this was a catalyst that spurred him to write for his young boys. In his young adult fantasy novel, The Book of Names, he chose to "tell a tale his four sons could relate to in their own journey through loss." And truly, one of the greatest attributes of fiction is its ability to pass on wisdom without the sensation of human intrusion. In plain terms, we often want to learn things on our own, and not from others--especially as teenagers! We want to come to understand by ourselves. For this, fiction can be a wonderful teacher. And in life, sometimes things are better understood through story, than in conversation. Like Briggs, any parent in such horrible circumstances offers up their comfort and their support as best they can, but sometimes words fail. And where words fail, sometimes fiction can come to the rescue.

I hope this has encouraged those of you considering writing a book for your own children. Or if perhaps you are--like me--thinking of writing a story for children you do not yet have, I say, why not? For both the parent, and the parent-to-be, just think back to those stories you adored when you were young, to those tales of heroes, of battles between good and evil, and to those books that gave you strength to fight off a particular fear, or overcome a hurdle in your life...why not write a book like that for your own child. You would be hard pressed to think of many things more worthwhile.

If you're interested in Briggs' Novel, The book of Names, please check out the following blog sites that are part of the CSFF blog tour.

Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Alice M. Roelke
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise


BooksforLife said...

That's interesting! I didn't know that he lost his wife too...

I liked your post!


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

We want to come to understand by ourselves. For this, fiction can be a wonderful teacher.

Excellent point, Brandon. I think as we discover the truth for ourselves, even in fiction, the learning goes from head-knowledge to heart-knowledge--the kind we are more apt to act on.


gzusfreek said...

Well said. I don't have kids yet, but am really attached to my nephew. When I write, I carry him with me.

What a compelling story -- Briggs' life, I'll have to pick up The Book of Names. I think I've heard of it.

I'll also visit the tour. Thanks for the post!

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Booksforlife,
thanks for stopping by.

Hey Rebecca,
I agree. It's easy to have knowledge stored up in our heads. But nothing spurs heart knowledge (which is born of true conviction) like personal experience. And books can take us--through story--into limitless experience. Through good fiction, we can learn, and hopefully...grow.

Hi gzusfreek :)
A nephew can be like a son! My aunt has been like a second mother in my life, and I love her deeply.
I don't have kids yet either, but I work with youth at my church, and I know how daunting all the struggles are that they face. I write in part for them (and those like them) hoping to guide them ultimately to the life-giving knowledge of God.

Eve said...

I have my kids and other people's kids in mind when I write as well. Though I must admit I write primarily for me :)

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Eve,
Thanks for adding to the discussion. I also write for myself as well. It also depends on the type of story I'm writing. Some are more focused for adults, while other I know will pick up the interest of younger readers.


For almost a year now, my niece (the one who's been starring in my blog posts lately) has been waiting for me to finish a story about a boy named Emerson. She's ten; Emerson's seventeen. I was uncertain about trying to interest a pre-teen girl in the adventures of a teenage boy, but the way she took to The Book of Names helped put those concerns to rest.

I work with kids every day, but have none of my own; despite completing a course in writing for children, I still feel unsteady on my feet when venturing into that territory. God bless those who boldly go.

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Keanan. Interestingly, once I reached middle school, I stopped reading young adult fiction and began reading books aimed at adults. I think most kids do. So in writing any book, I keep teens in mind, because I know they could be reading it too.

One sad thing I've found is that almost all books for children and teens are about children and teens...what happened to adult role models. When I was a kid, I loved reading about adults...not teens.

In my own writing, I hope to give them an adult hero...

Robert Treskillard said...

Great post, Brandon. I'm not participating in the tour this month due to trying to get my own query and proposal out the door, but you've touched a nerve with me here.

One of my primary motivations to write is to pass something on to my children. To give them something deeper by which to know me.

I'll be 42 in less than a week, and you could say that writing is kind of my mid-life crisis. My father died at 72, and although I hope to live longer than him, I have to face the fact that my life is half over.

What can I pass on that has a chance of outliving me? That has a chance even to be passed on to future generations of my children who will have never set eyes on me?

Writing. A novel. An adventure that speaks truth in just the way you have expressed it about "The Book Of Names".

If I am never published, so be it. I will be happy placing my novel in God's hands, and through him, to my children.

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Robert :)

What you said is so true. A book is so much different than other mediums...a book is tediously thought out, examined, re-examined, and then re-examined again through tireless labor. We want each word, each expression, and all the wisdom contained within to be exact.
That's what makes some books so timeless...it's only natural we would want to pass hard-learned truths and wisdom to our dearly beloved children.

Amydeanne said...

Brandon, this is exactly how I felt! I know several people looked critical at this book, but considering audience and it's aimed at kids, hey I loved it, and I felt it even deeper that it was written for his own boys! what a legacy to leave!

Rachel Starr Thomson said...

Hey Brandon,

Thanks for your comment! So, question for you: do you feel that speculative fiction is particularly effective in dispelling that teenage "confusion" so many are enmeshed in? Or are all literary forms created equal in that regard?

Amy Deardon said...

Brandon, just read about your novel from gzusfreek's blog. Congratulations! I'll look for it.

I often think how amazing it is when I read a book that I can touch minds with the author who may be long dead. When I write, I always have someone in mind, whether my children or someone else (real or imagined) who I want to desperately explain something to. What an amazing thing a book is.

Brandon Barr said...

Hi Amydeanne,
Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I agree, a story is quite a gift for a parent to give.

Hi Rachael,
Wow, that's a good question...one I'd really need to think on for a spell. But here are my thoughts:
I think one can relate/connect more to realistic fiction in a personal way. "Where the Red Fern Grows", "Old Yeller", "Of Mice and Men" etc. These stories hit us hard because we understand them so well...they are in our world and very real.
At the same time, speculative fiction can help us connect in these areas too, but I think the strength of spec fiction lies in its ability to reinvigorate that which has become familiar to us in our world. Speculative fiction is like parable. HOWEVER, now that you've asked this question, I think my above answer is too simplistic. I'd need to devote much more thought (and words) to this topic...maybe I'll write a blog post on this in the future...
Great question Rachael!!!

Amy :)
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. Yes, books are amazing. God speaks to us through the written word, so it truly is a powerful medium!