I am a self-professed, craft-book addict. I love reading about writing. Yes, it is probably a form of procrastination, but at least it is a productive form. For me, while many ideas are similar between books, hearing them explained in different ways is often the difference between reading a tip, and actually understanding how it works. Sometimes my brain needs to hear the same thing said, just with different words.

For this third installment in my series on children’s writing, I want to talk about Nancy Lamb’s The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children (Writer’s Digest Books 2001). Like Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books (Writer’s Digest Books 2009) it’s more of a primer than an in-depth exploration of any one aspect of the craft of writing.

But unlike Paul’s book, it doesn’t limit its focus to just picture books. If you have designs on writing stories for older kids, this is probably a better choice even though the craft lessons in the books are very similar. The most useful difference being that Lamb’s book uses examples and exercises that include books for older readers.

Nancy Lamb’s Best Books for Children’s Writers

The book examples she refers to form what she calls her “Touchstone Books”—those books that exemplify good writing and that have withstood the test of time. Here’s her list:

She also provides a great list of craft books (I love when authors do this!). Here is Nancy Lamb’s reading list of craft books for children’s writers:

One of the reasons I love craft books is that while they all say similar things, they all say them in a different way. Sometimes it takes hearing the same idea a few times, but in different words, for it to really settle in. This difference is sometimes all I need to move from hearing an idea to understanding one.

Writing Exercise

Here are my questions for you this week: 1. Which book from the first list have you read that left an impression on you? Why? 2. Have you used any books from the second list? If so, how did they help you? Leave your answers in the comments, and I’ll do the same!

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