Ten Commandments of Children’s Literature

Balzer & Bray editor Ruta Rimas discussed this at the SCBWI Picture Book Retreat in Santa Barbara last January. She gave us some solid advice from former HarperCollins editorial director Michael Stern. Last year, Michael left HarperCollins Children’s Books to become a literary agent at the Firebrand Agency. With 20+ years in the business to base this one, here are his “Ten Commandments of Children’s Literature.”

1. Thou shalt not talk down to your readers.
2. Thou shalt not sermonize to your readers.
3. Thou shalt not strain to rhyme.
4. Thou shalt not create cutsie names.
5. Thou shalt not waste words.
6. Thou shalt not indulge in self-consciously poetic writing.
7. Thou shalt not be afraid to cut your favorite lines.
8. Thou shalt love language.
9. Thou shalt not send editors and agents first drafts.
10.Thou shalt not obey any rule to the detriment of good writing.

For a detailed look at the above commandments, visit Michael Stern’s blog.

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