So, on Monday, I killed my computer. On Tuesday, I spent 12 hours in airplanes and airports with my two children, ages 3 and 1, by myself.
It’s been a great week. 🙄
Yeah, so back to what I meant to talk about today. A few months ago, I picked up a storybook to read to my son. It was about 8 pages. It featured trucks, work, and friendships, and . . . well, it sucked.
A few days later, I let my husband read it to my daughter for bedtime. Once he finished, I waited for his reaction. He looked up and said, “That book sucked.”
We read a lot of board books, including baby books that are merely lists of items or colors or emotions. We read “I love you” books and song books and silly books all without complaint. So why did this book turn us both off?
It had no plot.
Now, it did have a series of events. Trucks did this, went there, said this. We don’t have a high literary standard for our children’s fare.
But if you’re going to tell a story, your plot has to have conflict. Even if you’re writing for three year olds. Even if you’re writing marketing shlock slapped onto a board book (which this was).
A counter example: we also read The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear . I’d guess it has somewhere around the same number of words, but the whole book is about the mouse trying to keep his strawberry from the bear.
Conflict. Even in a children’s book. And that one gets requested a lot more than the truck book.
What do you think? Is conflict something we all inherently want in a book?
(If you’re wondering, traveling wasn’t really that bad. They’re pretty good kids. I might even keep them.)
Photo credit: Lawrence Whittemore