Academic Books for Kids

By Jill Norgren, author of Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would Be President

The late Tony Hillerman did it; so have Madonna, Katie Couric, Brooke Shields, Bette Midler, and Lynne Cheney. Each of these celebrities has written at least one book for children, crossing the divide from the world of adults into the culturally and linguistically distinct space of younger generations.

In my experience biographers who write for adults seldom consider composing for the young adult audience (ages nine to thirteen). I recently did and think more of you should follow suit. A month before delivering the manuscript of my biography, Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would Be President (NYU Press), I realized that a children’s writer was likely to take my research from the adult biography and use it to craft a book for young adults. Why not do it myself?

The idea of writing in another voice, one appropriate for fifth, sixth, and seventh graders, was at once intimidating and intriguing. Why shouldn’t Lockwood’s story would be written by the person who, having spent seven years researching and writing the version for adults, had dug the deepest and pondered the longest? It would be authentic, not derivative.

To read the rest of the article, go to the November 2008 issue of The Biographer’s Craft.