Writing for Younger Readers - Part 2

Judy Blume

Lesson time 8:42 min

Give kids credit—they understand more than you think. Judy explains that authors should never write as adults talking to children.

Judy Blume
Teaches Writing
In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.
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We all have to be very, very careful to be the kid when we're writing. So of course, we're never ever talking down to them. We're never ever preaching. We're not an adult telling children a story about being a kid. No, no. We are that kid. That's where we are. We might know a lot more because we're adults, but we don't announce that. That might come through character and action and dialogue, but we never ever are an adult talking down to a child. I don't care if you're five years old. You're a real person. You have real feelings. I'll bet you remember because I certainly do when you were young about certain adults who always talk down to you-- oh, you little cute thing. But really, if I meet a five-year-old, I want to talk to that five-year-old as a person, not as an adult saying you're such a cute little thing, even if she is a cute little thing. And she probably is. So because we don't ever want to lose sight of the fact that children are human beings and they have feelings and emotions and they have curiosity and imagination, and we don't want to forget that. So when we're writing-- now I'm preaching to you. I'm sorry for that everybody. But when we write, we write as we are them. My very best teenage characters are in my adult novels. They're in Summer Sisters. They're in In the Unlikely Event. They're in Smart Women. Those are my best teenage characters. So when I first wrote Wifey, that was the first adult book after many children's books. And I decided that I wanted to write this adult novel. And oh my god, everybody told me this is going to ruin your career and you have to use a different name and you can't do this. And blahdy blah. Well, as soon as you tell me I can't do something, I'm going to do it. That's the bad ass coming out even though the fearful, anxious child grows up into a bad ass woman. OK, so don't tell me what to do because I'm probably then I'm really going to want to do it. Maybe that's childlike, I don't know. But to find a voice for Wifey took me three or four months, to find a way to tell it. But once I did-- the writing, nothing is any different. It's just as hard. Then I wrote Smart Women, which is full of teenage characters, some of my better teenage characters, I think, and also Women. And it's told from various viewpoints. And it's just what world are you inhabiting. And then if you're going back and forth, you're inhabiting this teenage world. And then you're inhabiting this world of parents. But for me, it's fun. I like that. Again, it's a challenge. I like to be challenged. Voice, I think, is equally important for younger readers and adult readers. Pace I think is essential in a book for young readers. Boring is the biggest turnoff. I like energetic writing, and I like fast paced writing. And I don't care what age I'm wri...

Write timeless stories

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Judy's delivery is fantastic. You can see her honesty throughout the entire course. I've been to several writing conferences and I majored in English. If I had had teachers and speakers like her, I'd have started my writing career much earlier in life. Judy goes over everything. I loved it!

I have learned that even the best writers go through struggles and never give up. I have learned with her that rules are necessary but not essential, that imagination as a creative force is the real fuel behind every story. ​

Great advice. Writing for children can be a discouraging business.

What a great class! Judy felt like a mentor, providing tips, giving encouragement, and sharing her personal experiences to help me in my own.



I have been listening/reading your books since before fourth grade, so thank you for so many memories

Veronica F.

I do agree with Judy that in order to write for children you have to really get inside a child's mind and the way they think. You have to try to get in touch with that child that is inside of us. Sometimes as an adult, I find that it can be a little difficult to reach that inner child. On the other hand, when I try I do find her.

Victoria M.

Can’t get enough of Judy and the manner in which she freely makes one feels like I can really do this. I will probably watch her lessons over and over.

A fellow student

Judy energizes me. The focus on 'being the kid' is helping me keep my thoughts and ideas where I hope to write with the same energy and enthusiasm to be able to excite young readers.

Zenna Y.

“As soon as you tell me not to do it, I’m gonna do it” It’s so fun that Judy said it with such a sweet smile :D!

Eryn B.

Judy seems really sweet and she's nice to watch but I can't say I'm getting anything out of her class. I find she'll say something, and it's true, but there aren't firm examples of how she goes about achieving what she says or she doesn't elaborate on key points...I mean, perhaps I'm tuning out a bit too much because I'm not hearing anything new (which isn't her fault) but I think her class lacks depth. I won't be continuing beyond Chapter 7.

Brenda M.

So true! You can't love writing without loving to read. And you love to read because you love to learn. I was a teacher for 28 years. I believe to be a teacher you have to love learning.

Wanita K.

I don't see myself writing a book. I read and love to read the writings of children. This class is energizing my short stories. This is a joy.

Rachel M.

I remember when I was in preschool, I got in trouble a lot for...I can't exactly remember what it was but I think I was making too much noise. But I do remember the principal yelling at me and feeling scared and not knowing what I did wrong. Every adult who wasn't my mom or dad made me feel scared, even my grandparents. My parents said I was being rude but I was really just scared of getting yelled at. The problem carried over even through high school. I was afraid to speak or make any kind of noise and when I did it came out wrong and I got in trouble. I got in trouble for speaking and I got in trouble for not speaking. I couldn't win. So I turned to stories. Reading and writing them. They were something I could do quietly and by myself and I wouldn't be bothering anybody.

Rachel M.

"Alice in Wonderland" remains one of my favorite stories, the book and the movie adaptations (especially Disney). As an adult I now realize why I loved it so much. I identified with Alice. There were times where I was trying to make sense of the big, crazy world around me and all I got in return from the adults was responses I didn't understand and they would talk down to me like all the adults in Wonderland did to Alice. But Alice who was around seven (according to the book) definitely wasn't stupid, but highly analytical with her little monologues and musings, though she didn't always make the smartest choices. As confusing as the story is, it's definitely one of my favorite examples of a young heroine.