When writing for Internet publications, no matter the type of writing, it is always important to take the audience into consideration by using language, style, and themes that are appropriate and appealing to your ideal readers. In some ways, writing for a younger audience as an adult can be more difficult than writing for an adult audience because children usually have fewer literary experiences than adults, and therefore, they have more limitations for what they are able to understand in a written text.
Below are several tips on how to write content so that it is interesting and understandable to the young reader:
- Read pieces written for your target audience
The easiest way to familiarize yourself with the interests and linguistic abilities of your ideal audience is to read other pieces of writing that are directed toward this age group. Most libraries and bookstores have classification systems that categorize books based off of different age groups, often breaking them down into children’s books, preteen books, and young adult literature. Another option for finding writing geared toward young readers (depending on the age you are targeting) is by looking at articles that are trending across social media online. Teenagers and young adults are known for using social media the most; take some time to look around on the Internet to find out what these generations are interested in reading about.
- Use simpler sentence structures
If you are writing for younger children, in particular, you will want to be careful to use sentence structures that are comprehensible to your audience. Young children are generally not very experienced readers and will struggle to follow sentences with multiple clauses. When writing in languages like English, a good rule to follow is to make sure your sentences have the following order: a subject, followed by a verb, followed by an object. For example, a child will more readily be able to comprehend a sentence such as ‘The child is happy,’ as opposed to ‘Happiness is felt by the child.’ In order to avoid using sentences that are syntactically complex, consider thinking about how you would naturally say what you want to communicate in conversation—this is likely a structure that is easy to understand.
- Focus on context
One of the strategies children (and adults) use when trying to understand new vocabulary is to use the context, or the surrounding words, to help them guess the meaning of the unfamiliar word. Some teachers refer to this strategy as using context clues. Although you’ll want to be mindful and use vocabulary that is appropriate for the age of your audience, it is even more important to make sure you set up your sentences so that the reader can understand what is going on in the story, even if he or she does not know the definition of each individual word. One way to make sure you are setting up appropriate context clues for your readers is to skim through your writing and identify any words that may be difficult for someone who has not completed a high school education. Then, examine the context around those words. Does the context help to give meaning to the unknown words? If you replaced the unknown words with gibberish, would the reader still be able to understand the story?
Although this list is definitely not comprehensive, it offers several points that should be considered when writing for a young audience. By doing a little research and being mindful of your vocabulary choices and sentence structures, you can catch the attention of your ideal readers, even if you are from a different generation.