BLOGGER: KRISTEN GEARHART
Managing Editor, Keys for Kids
THE TOP FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T DO IN KIDS’ DEVOTIONS
Every year, I receive hundreds of children’s devotional submissions for publication consideration at Keys for Kids Ministries—from both new and seasoned authors. Our daily devotional is one way to break into children’s publishing to get some clips and also expand an existing author’s platform, so I see all sorts of writing levels on a day-to-day basis. Here are some examples of things I immediately decline publishing:
- Stories that have lofty messages or use complex theological terms. Devotions are meant to speak directly to readers. They should be able to see themselves in the situation or relate in some way. Every story should have a biblical/spiritual application, but presented in a way kids can relate to without getting too complicated.
- Stories told from an adult’s point of view. Because kids don’t want to read about someone’s grandma’s personal connection to her garden.
- Devotions that feature mythical creatures. In order to be biblically sound, I hold myself to being as truthful and upfront as possible for 6-12-year-old listeners/readers. While fantasy has its place, I’d rather not potentially confuse children by weaving biblical elements with imaginary beings.
- Devotions that are condescending to the reader. I don’t like it when someone wags their finger at me because I should or shouldn’t do something. I’m pretty sure kids don’t like it either.
- Stories that are poorly constructed or do not follow the writers’ guidelines. While I know it’s my job as an editor to smooth out plots, beef up character development, and clean up grammar issues, being forced to crawl through confusing dialogue or messy writing hinders me from truly connecting with the story.
Of course, these are just my opinions—another publisher might be interested in publishing stories featuring spiritually hungry Amish Leprechauns from outer space. Who am I to say?