What Makes a Good Book?

The answer to this would be the same as for any other book.

- As an agent I’m looking at the plot, if it’s well constructed with a strong beginning, middle and end. Would it be fun for the intended child to read? Are the characters realistic and would they hold the reader’s attention?

- The plot line would need to deal with issues without being soppy or preachy – finding that balance is tough!

- Children belong to two different universes: one - the outside world i.e. the real world and its reality and the other parallel universe in which they can make their own dreams come true. So, ideally a book should be able to transport the reader into that parallel space in which he or she can identify with the character and live the adventure.

- Using scenarios and elements of daily life with fiction engages their imagination, curiosity offering them a glimpse into the mysteries of this world.

- It's important that the book has an interesting protagonist with whom readers can identify. Children are inclined to identify with characters they love; in their imagination and role playing. Themes should focus on people, not on social issues and problems to have a positive impact and to be of good quality. Children enjoy following characters that can survive hardships and can tell good from evil. Children love obstacles, encounters or discovery so a series of overcoming these hurdles would capture their attention.

- Language is also an important factor of children’s books, words need to have an impact and not speak down to the child but should be fun to say and easy to follow. Catch phrases and simple words make it easier for the child to remember the story long after it’s been told.

- Ultimately, by reading the book the child should have discovered something new. There should be a lesson learned which engages him to look or think in a new or altered way. A theme that they can identify with which can be applied to their own lives, within family, at school or with their friends.

- Children’s books and literature can’t be written according to a successful formula though the above points perhaps can bring about clarity whilst writing. In the end, the author and story should captivate the imagination of the child and adult reader alike.

Sherna Khambatta
Sherna Khambatta Literary Agency