The term didactic refers to intending or inclined to teach, preach, or advise.
In today's market, writing an overtly didactic children's story for the trade market is usually a kiss of death for the manuscript.
Avoiding didactic writing or themes might be one of the hardest concepts when beginning to write for children. I get it; our adult mind -- either consciously or unconsciously -- wants to share what we've learned and what we know. We may feel that children of today need a nudge in the right moral direction. Or if we are of a certain age and grew up when more teaching-heavy stories were the norm, it could feel familiar and natural to write a story with a strong message.
However, I want you to succeed as a writer of children's books and these type of stories will likely not be acquired in today's market because:
1. a didactic story reflects the writer's ideology and unique perspective instead of allowing the reader to bring their own perspective to the story
2. a didactic story narrows the scope of the story to only the writer's experience instead of opening the reader to new worlds
3. a didactic story often has only one layer -- the moral or teaching -- instead of offering many layers for self-understanding and growth.
Great literature doesn’t tell you what to think or how to feel. It simply creates the space for those thoughts to happen on their own."
Write big, leave space, invite your reader in.
This blog shares insights on the craft of writing children's books and the publishing industry, and supports creators and educators on their journeys.