April 3, 2009

Are You Repeating Yourself? Good Job!

Repeating yourself can certainly be an awkward habit, but in the world of children's books, it can be a fantastic tool! In children's picture books, a catchy phrase adds rhythm or familiarity or humor. In reading aloud to children, particularly in a group setting, repetition really adds to the interactive nature of the book. In my book, Tonight You Are My Baby: Mary's Christmas Gift, the repetitive phrase "Tomorrow you will be King, but tonight you are my baby" repeats five times in a 32-page picture book. I must admit, the usefulness of this phrase caught me completely by surprise. Fortunately. in multiple school visits, I learned to invite the children to repeat the phrase with me while reading the book and they LOVED it! The appeal of joining with the author, helped the children stay involved and kept me from reading "at" them. Many of the children remarked that this was their favorite part of the visit. While writing your own manuscripts, take time to review other books that have a repetitive word/phrase/action. Several examples: Bear Feels Scared ("And the bear feels scared"), The Perfect Nest (some form of "This is my nest"), Chicks and Salsa ("Ole!"). Share this tool with other writer friends. The strength of repetition... well, bears repeating!

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