Writing with and for kids

I’ve been wanting to write something my sons would enjoy and tonight I pitched an idea to my eleven year old son along the lines of a young boy his age literally getting lost in a book.  The boy’s friends read about his adventures in the book as they try to figure out how to help him escape only they are always a chapter behind.  Their challenge is to figure out how to  catch up to their friend so they can rescue him before he gets to the dreaded chapter X.

At first my son seemed dubious but the more I pitched it to him the more interested he got.  Our conversation kind of went like this:

Son:  What would the boy’s name be?

Me:  I don’t know.  Would you like it to be your name? (The critical hook.  I’m no dummy.)

His eyes lit up and he nodded his head, a small smile starting to emerge.

Son:  How does he get in the book?

Me:  Well, it’s probably a magical book that maybe he shouldn’t have been reading in the first place but it’s so interesting  that he got “lost” in it.  We can have the book hidden in the dusty stacks of his local library and he sneaks away during story hour or something and finds it.

Son:  That’s kind of cliche, Mom.  You should have the first page of the book say, “Do not read aloud” but he does it anyway and poof, he’s transported into the story.

Me:  We could do that I suppose.

Son:  What kind of adventures would he have?

Me:  I dunno, whatever the author of the book or journal had written about.  Maybe fighting crocodiles or climbing cliffs or sailing the ocean.  Maybe you could come up with the adventures or maybe it could be a famous journal like Lewis and Clark’s.

More vigorous nodding.

Son:  What would the title be?

Me:   At first I thought I would call it “The Storyteller” but then my idea started to change and now I don’t think that’s a very good idea anymore.  Do you think you could come up with the title for me?

Son:  Cool. (Hook number two.)  We should write a sequel.

Me:  Well, why don’t we do the first one and see how it goes.

I’ve never written a middle grade book but my son is now totally stoked about the idea.  He’s a great little sketch artist so it would be awesome to include some of his drawings on the chapter title pages or as the main character’s journal sketchings.

Now I’m stoked too cause I have a guaranteed beta reader, my son will be reading more and, if I can convince him, writing more.  I’d love for him to write the lost young boy’s journal entries or letters that his friends read trying to catch him.  Win-win, except there won’t be any kissing.  Oh well.

My co-author: