Why I Write For Children by Annette Clayton
We asked each of our current Little Lamb Books authors a variation of the question, Why do you write children’s books? and we loved their answers. We think you will too! If you missed the previous posts in our Author Inspiration summer blog series, you can find and read them all right here. We have a few weeks remaining in the series and will be sharing our final authors’ thoughts as we wrap up summer and kick-off our birthday month. So, get comfy, grab a glass of sweet tea, and be inspired.
I always had this dream in the back of my mind … someday, maybe, I would write a book. I’d written quite a bit as a child and through my teen years, but life after college became a whirlwind: career, marriage, mortgages, and raising twin girls. It wasn’t until my thirtieth birthday I decided to make my dream a reality.
I started writing again, mostly working on a young adult novel I had begun ages ago. It felt so good diving into that creative space in my brain! Even so, writing was only a part-time hobby at best.
Not long after, my mom asked that I go through my old books in her basement and take anything I didn’t want tossed. I’d forgotten how much I read as a kid—there were hundreds of books. As I was shuffling through plastic bins, having a great time, I pulled out a picture book about a hippo. “Whoa,” I think, “I actually remember Mom reading this to me when I was a toddler.” Flipping open to a random page, I see it—an adorably plump hippo standing in a puddle.
There’s this moment of déjà vu. I’m three-years-old again staring into the silvery pool. How deep is it? It must go on forever…I can feel the cool water on my feet, just like the hippo. Suddenly, I’m ripped out of the page and slammed back into the present.
I don’t have moments like that very often. I have a bad memory, always have, so the intensity of it floored me. That’s when I knew, I wanted to write books for young children. I wanted to give children the same feelings of wonder and enchantment the story of the hippo gave me.
My hobby quickly grew into my passion. I worked hard and completed a few picture books, but what to do with them? I started researching the submission process and quickly learned, I didn’t know what I was doing. My stories were too long, they weren’t well plotted. I needed help. I made the mistake in college of not studying my true passion and going for a more “practical” degree. I would not make that mistake again.
I enrolled in a master’s degree program with a focus in writing for children. While in grad school, I fell even deeper in love with children’s literature and writing. As December approached, I wanted to teach my children about Three Kings Day, a little known Christmastime holiday celebrated in many Latin countries. Because my father’s side of the family is from Puerto Rico, we always celebrated growing up. What better way to teach my children about the Three Kings (Three Wise Men) then with a book! I couldn’t find any children’s books about the holiday at the library, and a quick internet search revealed much of the same; it just wasn’t widely written about.
Did that mean no one cared? I decided to write my own Three Kings Day story, loosely based on my Abuela (grandmother) teaching me about the holiday and passing on her beliefs and traditions. I don’t know how long it took me to write that first manuscript – six months, a year? I always have multiple projects going on and don’t often keep tract of timelines.
One of the agents I followed on twitter was involved in the Christian market. She had posted something about a #FaithPitch event. Intrigued, I researched the event and ending up finding Little Lambs Books. They had an open call for picture books featuring different cultures around the world celebrating Christian holidays. Maybe someone would care…
As it turns out, Little Lamb Books cared! My debut picture book will be published in the fall of 2021 and I can’t wait to share this special family story with others.
Three Kings Day will be Annette’s debut picture book with Little Lamb Books and is scheduled for release in November 2021.