Creating a Memorable Main Character in Your Children’s Book

As a children’s author, I’m often pleased to find that I’ve inspired children and adults to write children’s stories of their own. A question they wonder is what exactly makes a good children’s book. It’s important that a children’s book have a charming protagonist with whom readers can identify. It seems that children tend to literally identify with characters they love; in their imagination and games, they often pretend they are indeed the beloved protagonists of their favorite movies, TV shows, and books.

So what qualities should a children’s story protagonist have? If you study the most popular children’s stories of the last few hundred years, many characters have a superhuman trait or superhuman power, but at the same time they have a human frailty about them which most people have in common—such as a fear or anxiety about something or something in their life that is causing them stress. In Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack is a regular, poor boy with magical beans, and Harry Potter of course finds that he is a wizard. Jack’s magical beans and Harry’s magical genetic endowment delight children, while Jack’s hard circumstances and the fact that Harry is an unloved orphan earn the sympathy of children everywhere.

In Danny the Dragon, I sought to have these same qualities, and I have met many children who truly love and identify with Danny. Of course, some wonderful children’s books lack a traditional protagonist, such as Goodnight Moon or some very delightful counting and alphabet books. This is why nailing down what makes for good children’s books can be a challenge!

Posted in Advice, Children's Author, Children's Book, Childrens' Literature, Helpful Tips, literacy, moms, parenting
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16 Responses to Creating a Memorable Main Character in Your Children’s Book

  1. Joni says:

    Tina, This is fantastic. You are spot on! We love your book by the way and have your DREAMS audiobook now as well.Joni.

  2. Anne Boynton says:

    Thanks for this advice. I’ve been working on a children’s book now for over a year! I’d love to hear more informative posts like this geared toward writers.

  3. Janine says:

    You definitely succeeded in making a memorable character with Danny the Dragon! Especially with him illustrated the way he was:)!!!

  4. Katerina says:

    This was really helpful. Does anyone know of any forum for children’s writers?

  5. GF Jennie says:

    I request more articles like these that are helpful for us aspiring authors!

  6. Teresa says:

    You mentioned some of my favorite childhood books in here, and you’re right that every children’s story is unique and there isn’t exactly a formula. However, for books with protagonists, creating a memorable one is essential, and you’ve certainly done that with Danny the Dragon!

  7. Chris says:

    Very true. True of chidren’s as well as adult’s literature, and movies I guess, too, perhaps everything.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    This was a nice post. I am not a children’s author, but it’s still interesting to read about this.

  9. Georgette says:

    Thanks Tina, you really know your stuff!

  10. Brittany says:

    Just ordered your CD and DVD. The kids LOVE Danny. Thanks for everything you do, Tina!

  11. Sarah Babington says:

    Thanks Tina for this informative post. I would really like to be a children’s author myself and these tips are very helpful.

  12. Faith says:

    This is valuable advice. Did you study to be a children’s author at all or are you just naturally extraordinarily gifted?

  13. Jacklyn Hernandez says:

    Thank you Tina for this helpful article. I am an aspiring children’s writer and I am so pleased to find that you are helping others to realize their own dreams.

  14. Marissa says:

    This was very helpful. I teach Creative Writing to fourth and fifth graders, and I read this to them. They really liked it. A lot of children are interested in following in your footsteps as a children’s author.

  15. Paul says:

    Hi, Tina, I’m an aspiring children’s author in the UK. This is a very useful piece here, I’d love to see more. Cheers, Paul

  16. Meghan says:

    Thanks Tina for this piece! I’d love to see a little series designed to help children’s authors.

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