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How "important" is proper grammar in a dialogue-based PB?

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Hello everyone! I have written a 72-word picture book for ages 1–4, and it's entirely dialogue-based. I'm researching opinions about the use of improper grammar in PB dialogue. The characters in my book are a child around 2 or 3 years old and their parent. I want the discussion they have to sound realistic, thus I have intentionally used improper grammar throughout the book.

I've recently asked for critiques of my PB, and multiple people have made comments about the grammar. I feel confident that a great many published picture books have utilized improper grammar in character dialogue. I strongly believe the way I wrote my book is the way it needs to be written. It isn't just an "entertaining story"—there's an important purpose to it.

I am most interested in finding discussions or blog posts about this aspect of children's book writing. If I can determine a significant consensus among dozens of prominent figures in the children's book industry, and they're of the position that grammar should be proper—even in dialogue, even in picture books targetting kids that would speak similarly—then I would be willing to fix my book.

Thanks for any research help you're able to provide.
#1 - December 30, 2017, 02:53 PM

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What's important is that you tell a compelling story that kids will want to read over and over again. In order to be compelling, it has to be understood. Very few people speak in completely grammatically correct sentences. In fact, we often don't use complete sentences at all. But if you clip too much or twist grammar too far, you might lose the reader (unless the illustrations compensate).

Since there are books with one word or fewer per page and no true grammar, I think you'll be fine as long as the reader can follow the story. Do keep your audience in mind though.

A survey of what's out there may help you target publishers who aren't bothered by grammar. I actually haven't heard this discussed for picture books. It matters for early readers where the kids are learning to read and learning grammar from the books. So be sure the discussions you find focus on PBs and not readers or chapter books.
#2 - December 30, 2017, 05:55 PM
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