I find it helps when I am stuck to imagine who will be eventually reading the book I am writing. Inevitably the Book as Bedtime Story image flashes by, but I find more often I think in terms of a teacher or librarian with a group of children. That’s why I like to include funny noises, images that go beyond the pictures, and familiar feelings of the preschool or early grade school child. As I move into a new writing interest – the Story as Impetus for Learning – my mental image is the classroom corner where the book is the starting point for a unit, a taste of new information with imagination that I hope will spark a young learner to know more.
Since my first publications were written on assignment, I wrote mostly with the editor in mind. She set me the word count and specifics of the story, and I filled in the creative blanks. Imagine my surprise when it started to sell and I found out who was reading the Baby Bible Storybook! Babies loved the thick pages and grandmas loved the exceedingly cute art. I assumed someone read the words, as well. It sold a whole lot of copies (and the words “on assignment” mean I did not make a “whole lot” of money) and spent time on the Best Seller list in its particular category. I wrote variations like Baby Bible Animals and Baby Bible ABC without a lot of further thought for the chubby little hands that would hold it.
My awakening came when some books in the series were translated into other languages: French, Portuguese, Indonesian.
The picture shows a Spanish copy I hand delivered to a mission in Costa Rica.
Then I had a letter with the Arabic version (printed, of course, back to front!) stating that this particular translation would be used to teach reading to rural Egyptian children who would have no other books or schooling. It took my breath away!
So I hold one image of my reader, but wait to be delighted by where the words end up.