Part 2, Project 1 – Exercise: Writing for different age groups

The titles in the course notes have got suggested ages against them. I have looked through them all and have the following thoughts:

Hugo Pepper – Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell (7+):
I was surprised this was for 7 year olds and upwards. It struck me that although the storyline suits a younger audience, the language is a little more demanding than other book titles I saw for this age group. There are some charming hand-drawn illustrations, and plenty of chapters to divide the story up, but I would argue this should be at least 8-9+ year olds.

Stormbreaker – Anthony Horowitz (9+):
I think this should be for a 12+ age group. There are hardly any pictures, there are17 chapters but they’re all quite lengthy, and the language is quite challenging for a 9 year old age group.

Skulduggery Pleasant – Derek Landy (9+):
30 chapters, a lengthy title but a storyline and use of language that I would suggest is more appropriate to 12+ year olds.

Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo (9+):
I was surprised to see this within this age group; I would have placed it 12+. That said, there were many Morpurgo titles in the bookshop within this fiction age group. The subject matter, whilst gritty and dealing with war, is engaging. There are no illustrations and title lines instead of chapter numbers. The text is small but so is the book – the size one could fit into a pocket, which does entice smaller hands. I suppose it could work for the more fluent 9 year old but I personally would be happier seeing it in the higher age group.

Little Darlings – Jacqueline Wilson (8-12):
13 chapters, a storyline of two pubescent girls who are friends and exploring different emotional reactions to situations. I think this is perfectly catergorised for the 8-12 year age group. It’s a lengthy book, the language is detailed and conversational, there are no illustrations as such. The subject matter ties it into the age group perfectly for me.

Blood Ties – Sophie McKenzie (12+):
This is the thickest book and at 86 chapters, really does feel weighty. The storyline is complex and demands a lot from its young reader. This is perfectly suited to it’s recommended age category. There are no illustrations and relies soley on the reader to create the images for themselves.

When considering writing for different age groups, there are identifiers that target the text to a particular audience.

Hugo Pepper (7+):
Paragraph lengths: 5 lines
Sentence lengths: 15 words longest, 5 words shortest
Word length: 10 character longest
Use of colloquial words, exclamations: None
Perspective/viewpoint: Narration – third person

Stormbreaker (9+):
Paragraph lengths: 6 lines
Sentence lengths: 17 words longest, 2 words shortest
Word length: 10 character longest
Use of colloquial words, exclamations: None
Perspective/viewpoint: Narration – third person

Private Peaceful (9+):
Paragraph lengths: 5 lines
Sentence lengths: 10 words longest, 8 words shortest
Word length: 10 character longest
Use of colloquial words, exclamations: None
Perspective/viewpoint: First person
Blood Ties (12+):
Paragraph lengths: 4 lines
Sentence lengths: 16 words longest, 1 word shortest
Word length: 12 character longest
Use of colloquial words, exclamations: Frequent
Perspective/viewpoint: First person

Using these notes, I now need to create my own opening page targeting a specific age group. I’m going to imagine writing for the 12+ age group; it strikes me as the most flexible and has more room to be creative….

My arm was sore from yesterday’s discussions with Barry.

Barry.

Just saying his name in my head made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
However, the thought of seeing my new special friend after school made me smile. I had only met them once before but I knew that we had the potential for a long-lasting friendship. My only problem was this: could I trust him?

Perhaps today would be a better day.

“Get over here, you little idiot!”

Perhaps it wouldn’t be.

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