Children’s Book Template – Jericho Writers
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Children’s Book Template: Our Guide With A FREE Download

So you want to write a children’s fiction book? Hurray!

But where do you start?

With our free children’s book template, of course!

Our Jericho Writer’s template will guide you through everything you need to write your first piece of kid lit.

Whether you’re interested in writing a picture book, or a novel for teens, our free guide to writing fiction for children has everything you need to get started!

LM – Children’s Book

How To Use Our FREE Children’s Book Template

Download our free template and take the next step to writing your children’s book.

Using our template is easy. Simply follow the prompts and start plotting and planning your new book today.

But before you start writing, take a look at our guide below, outlining everything you need to know about writing for children.

What Is A Children’s Book?

There are many different types of children’s fiction books, each categorised by age group.

The way the book looks, the subject matter and the writing style will all change based on the age group you’re writing for. So it’s important that, before you start, you understand who your target audience is and why you want to write for them.

Let’s take a look at each type of children’s book in more detail.


Picture Books (Ages 0-7)

Picture books are often the first type of storybook a child enjoys.

Whereas board books are great for toddlers, they don’t often include a story, whereas a picture book (think Room on the Broom, The Tiger that Came for Tea, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar) is a fun and engaging story, full of compelling characters and adventures, alongside beautiful illustrations.

About Picture Books:

  • They must be concise
  • Have a theme and message
  • Include simple words and ideas
  • Some rhyme (or have a certain rhythm)
  • Be accompanied by illustrations (although the writer doesn’t have to do both)

Because they’re written for young children, many think writing a picture book is easy. It’s not! It’s a very competitive genre, and because the books are read to children by adults, they need to be just as enjoyable for grown-ups as they are for little ones.

Early Reader Books (Ages 5-9)

Likewise, books for early readers are also for young children – but unlike picture books, these are more educational and often the first book a kid will read alone.

Early reader books are very simplistic because they help a child learn to read – so the words and plot are not very complex (think Spot the Dog). Although they often cross over with picture books (ie Dr Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, Blue Fish).

These are also accompanied by illustrations.

Chapter Books (Ages 7-10)

Chapter books are a natural progression from early reader books, read by children once they have the confidence to move on from a simple storyline to a more complex plot with chapters.

Chapter books contain fewer pictures, and in most cases, the illustrations will be limited to black and white images that aren’t featured on every page.

Middle-Grade Books (Ages 8-12)

A natural cross-over with chapter books, the middle-grade genre covers any books for children of middle-grade age.

These novels are often funny, adventurous and/or didactic. Although the language and style may remain simplistic, the plot and characters can be a lot more engaging and complex.

Writing middle-grade means understanding your target audience well — what that age finds amusing and interesting, and what is relevant to their lives today.

10 Middle-Grade Book Examples:

  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Antigua de Fortune by Anna Rainbow
  • Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  • The Harry Potter series by J K Rowling
  • Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  • Blended by Sharon Draper
  • Sleep-over Take Over by Simon James Green
  • The Hunt for the Nightingale by Sarah Ann Juckes

Graphic Novels (Any Age)

Graphic novels are illustrated books, often drawn in a comic book style.

These can be for any age — from children starting to read and needing a book with fewer words, to those who simply enjoy the fun of a story told in pictorial form.

Many graphic novels, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Heartstopper have become so popular they’ve been turned into movies and TV series.

Other Graphic Novels For Children Include:

  • Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Being Good by Louie Stowell
  • The Witches of Brooklyn series by Sophie Escabasse
  • Marshmallow & Jordan by Alina Chau

In some cases (such as above) the artwork is also by the author, but that is not always the case.

If you want to write a graphic novel but can’t draw, you can team up with an artist or work alongside your agent or editor who can pair you up with one.

Young Adult Books (12-18)

Writing for young adults means writing for teenagers. It can be very rewarding, but it is also a big responsibility.

Young adult books can fall under any genre (from horror and contemporary, to romance and fantasy— or a mix of more than one) but they are all written in a way that helps children navigate their teen years.

Many young adult books tackle big themes and — because they are written for young people who are discovering who they are — often include stories that involve sex, LGBTQ characters, and serious topics such as mental health, feminism and racism.

But that doesn’t mean YA books are all serious. Many are exciting, adventurous and swoony, with handsome heroes and magical escapades.

Many YA books and series have been adapted for TV and enjoyed by teens and adults alike.

10 YA Book Examples:

  • Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  • Simon and the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green
  • Dear, Martin by Nic Stone
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

10 Things To Consider When Writing For Children

Before you put pen to paper, here are ten very important things to consider.

Reader Age

Be very sure of what age you are writing for before you start planning your story and ensure your books are age appropriate.

Read plenty of books from that age group, published in the last five years, to truly understand what readers are currently enjoying. This will help you get a sense of the kind of content, pace, language and themes that are commonly used.

Make Sure Your Readers Can Relate To Your Book

When children are your target audience, it’s important to ensure they can relate to your storyline and characters.

One of the biggest challenges a kid lit author has is remembering how it felt to be a child – and realising that how it felt back THEN may be different to how it feels NOW.

So talk to readers of the kinds of books you want to write, spend time around children of that age, and really know your audience.


The age you are writing for is not a genre. Children’s books fall under many different genres, so ensure you know what yours is before you start writing.

A middle-grade horror book, for instance, will be very different to a YA horror. Will your horror be tame and funny, or will it be gruesome and scary?

If your chapter book is fantasy, then remember the story can’t have too many plot lines as the word count will be short. However, if your YA is fantasy, you can write an entire series and make it as convoluted as you wish.

Word Count

Talking of word count, the number of words you write matters a lot when it comes to kid lit!

In fact, if you are submitting your manuscript to agents you will be instantly dismissed if your words fall wildly short of (or significantly above) what is expected for that genre and category.

Here’s a handy guide of how many words to aim for, with each age category split up even further.

Children’s Book Word Count

  • Board Book (0-2) — max 100 words
  • Picture Book (0-4) — max 400 words
  • Picture Book (3-7) — max 600 words
  • Early Readers (5-9) — max 1,500 words
  • Chapter Book (7-10) — because each child’s reading level varies, chapter books can vary in length from 4,000 – 15,000 words
  • Young Middle Grade or MG (8-9) — 15,000 to 25,000 words
  • Middle Grade or MG (10-11) — approx 45,000 words
  • Upper Middle Grade (11-13) — max 65,000 words max
  • Young Adult (12-18) — 75,000 to 85,000 words for contemporary, romance and historical; 90,000 to 97,000 words for SF

Create A Captivating World

When you write for children COOL STUFF HAS TO HAPPEN!

Unlike adult books, where you can write a literary account of the monotony of a middle-aged woman’s life, children’s books have to maintain a fast pace and include compelling characters, a captivating world, and some big themes.

So ensure that you write an engaging story.

That doesn’t mean your book has to include magic or a quest, it may be about the life of a boy on a London council estate, but make sure that the world you create is realistic, immersive, and keeps the reader’s attention (because children will put a book down a lot faster than an adult will).

Create Unforgettable Characters

Likewise, make sure your book has a main character who jumps off the page (and plenty of great supporting characters too)!

It doesn’t matter whether your protagonist is a boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs and discovers he’s a powerful wizard, a boy who wins a trip to an unusual chocolate factory, or a girl who’s forced to enter a deathly game of survival and overthrows a corrupt government— whatever your character is doing, ensure that your readers care about them and will root for them.

Language, Relatability, Humour And Pacing

To keep your young readers interested, you need to write in a way that’s engaging.


Make sure your characters don’t sound like you (ie an adult)! Equally, that doesn’t mean you should write solely in the current teen vernacular… at least, not TOO much.

If your children’s books are set in the current time, think about how kids speak today as well as what words they no longer use.


Although times change, the themes and problems facing young people (and the things they enjoy) don’t change that much from decade to decade.

Remember that many stories for kids start with ‘firsts’ (first love, first heartbreak, first day at school, first time away from parents etc), so ensure you capture that excitement and trepidation all children can relate to.


Be funny, but adapt your humour to the target age. A fourteen-year-old is unlikely to laugh at a fart joke — but an eight-year-old will!

Even books that are not meant to be funny should still remain a little light and fun in places. Children laugh 300 to 400 times a day, and adults only 17.5 – so remember to include amusing dialogue and situations.


Pacing is really important in children’s books. In fact, many adults enjoy reading middle-grade and young-adult novels for that reason alone— they are faster, more engaging and a lot more fun.

As I mentioned before, it helps to read other books in your age group/kid lit genre and see how other authors tackle the flow, pacing, and structure of their children’s books. Or you can follow the simple step-by-step guide to plotting in our helpful template.

Does Your Book Appeal To Parents And Teachers?

Who your target audience is in terms of readership and marketing (children!), is very different to who your consumer is (parents, librarians, teachers, and other adults).

For instance, most seven-year-olds aren’t going to walk into a bookshop and buy a book, they will pick it up in the school library, or be bought a copy by grown ups.

Likewise, a toddler won’t read their favourite book alone, their parent will read it to them.

So, ensure the books you write are just as intriguing and engaging for adults as they are for children.

How Will You Publish?

Most successful children’s books are traditionally published, which means an author has found an agent who has sold their manuscript to a publisher.

If the book is illustrated, then either the author already works with an illustrator, or, more likely, the agent or publisher will match them with an illustrator they already work with.

Remember that most children’s books are sold in print format, with most kids first noticing them via the school library or bookstores. Unlike adult readers who use Kindles and buy digital books, younger children read more print books because they receive them as gifts or find them at school. As for really young children, they enjoy turning the pages and touching the book… so think about this when considering how to publish your book and when designing it.

But that doesn’t mean traditional publishing is the only route to publication or having your book enjoyed by children!

Self-Publishing Your Children’s Book

Self-publishing is a great option for kid lit. Although book printing isn’t cheap, it is possible, and you can approach independent retailers to stock your book or sell it yourself at children’s events.

For older children and teens you also have the option of publishing ebooks which they can read on their Kindle, Kobo, E-readers etc.

Likewise, you can set up a website and try crowd-funding. The popular graphic novel series, Heartstopper, began as a webcomic and was crowdfunded into a book before publishers and bookstores snapped it up.

Age and book format is very important when considering how you wish to get it out in the world – so think about it carefully.

Book Title And Design

Whether self-publishing or traditionally publishing your book, as the writer you will get some say in the look and feel of the final product.

Choosing A Title

The title of a book matters, so take a look at the title of other books in your age bracket and genre and see if there are any trends and patterns.

With picture books, the protagonist’s name or animal type is often in the title. With fantasy YA it’s often ‘A (blank) of (blank) and (blanks)’. Consider the audience, the subject matter, and the genre and check there aren’t already other books with the same title.

Although don’t forget with traditional publishing your title may be changed by the editorial or marketing team. So stay flexible!


As mentioned before, children’s authors don’t necessarily have to illustrate their books too. If your book needs illustrations you can work with an artist or connect with an agent and/or publisher and work with theirs.

Together you will work on the most eye-catching layout relevant to the target market age and genre. Each genre and age has a certain style, so do your research.


And my final piece of advice? Have fun!

If you haven’t enjoyed writing your children’s book, then there’s a strong chance that children won’t enjoy reading it. If your book makes you laugh, they will laugh. If it makes you excited, they will get excited.

Remember you are writing books for kids because you want to make their world better— so only do it if it also brings you joy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Structure A Children’s Book?

  • Come up with an idea that appeals to children.
  • Choose an age bracket (and understand your market).
  • Write the book in a way that is real and doesn’t talk down to kids.
  • Create unforgettable worlds, compelling characters, and lots of adventure.
  • Use our template to plot your first draft.
  • Keep editing and making it better.
  • Decide the best way to publish it.

What Are 5 Characteristics Of A Good Children’s Book?

  1. A simple story idea that’s compelling and fun.
  2. Connect with your readers and make the themes current and relatable.
  3. No matter what the story is, fill it with wonder and hope.
  4. Add a light touch with humour and fast pacing.
  5. Have fun writing it as it will guarantee it will be fun for the kids to read too!

Time To Get Writing

I hope you have found this guide to writing children’s books helpful and that you enjoy using our Jericho Writers children’s book template.

Good luck!