SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

Kid Critiques

Discussion started on

I'd really like to get my WIP read by some kids, but I have no idea how to go about it. I'd feel too awkward driving up to a school and begging kids to read my story. Plus, I'd probably get arrested. Any suggestions?
#1 - June 03, 2015, 07:09 PM

What age of kids? Probably the best way to find willing kids is to talk to teachers. Or if you happen to be friends with kids who express an interest in your story--that's the only way I've had kids read my work. But I write YA.

I'll put a caveat out here, though. It can feel good to have kids be excited about your story, but kids are not really good for critique. They are rarely able to articulate anything beyond "I liked it" or "I didn't like it", and you won't know if they didn't like it because your story had a spider in it and they don't like spiders or if it's because there's a flaw in your pacing or character development. Rather than seeking kid readers, I'd probably look for teachers who teach for the age group you write for. Particularly language arts teachers.
#2 - June 03, 2015, 07:31 PM

Thanks for asking!

I guess I could ask my sister--she's an assistant teacher. I might settle for asking her about what books her classes are actively reading. I'm not sure how I feel about showing her my books specifically though--I just don't tend to write about unicorns pooping rainbows and HEAs.
#3 - June 04, 2015, 12:22 PM
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 12:28 PM by SarahW »
You can find my stuff at: uggc://plorephyg.bet/~fnenu/oybt.ugzy

Ages 11-12.

I'm not really thinking about kids critiquing my book. But it would be nice to get feedback on what they do or do not like. What works, what doesn't.
#4 - June 04, 2015, 12:49 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region carolinas
Jak, if you have friends with kids, you could ask them to read for you. The parents might even enjoy having a break from them. Borrow them for an hour or so and bribe them with ice cream. Have them mark in a simple way: A = awesome, B = boring, C = confusing. It can be helpful to have feedback from kids but what's better is if you try to get a critique group. Kids can get stuck on minutiae or their own opinions about spiders or whatever, as Holly said.

My kids are pretty good readers, but they're older and getting mercenary and would clean you out. Son wants to buy a car. Daughter wants a phone. So you're out of luck with mine, otherwise I'd loan them to you.

Vijaya

#5 - June 04, 2015, 01:50 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

Hey Jak - my son and daughter are voracious readers and right around your target age group. I can't lend them to you though since we live in Germany. ;) However, if you want to send me the WIP, I'm happy to pass it along. Just send me a PM and we can take it from there.

In any case, good luck!
#6 - June 05, 2015, 03:57 AM

Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region southern-breeze
Hey Jak - my son and daughter are voracious readers and right around your target age group. I can't lend them to you though since we live in Germany. ;) However, if you want to send me the WIP, I'm happy to pass it along. Just send me a PM and we can take it from there.

In any case, good luck!

Hey kv3. If your kids want more books to read I've got one that my nephew and niece loved (after I made a lot of changes that is. LOL) But I haven't had a kid critique in about ten months, and I always like to put it out there. My beta/critique adults love it.
#7 - June 05, 2015, 05:32 AM
The Messengers - Dawn of Shadows (Searching for rep)
blog: josephlstovall.blogspot.com
twitter: @jlstovall4

Maybe do what I did, if it's available in your area. We have an Adult Education Exhibition twice a year in the City Hall where you find resources for courses in the evenings. But also there are all of the groups and organisations involved in the "past-time" sector.
That includes scouts, girl guides, youth groups, drama schools, theatres, etc. It's what I did. I went to one of the owners of a drama school, told her I wrote stories and would endeavour to become a narrator of my work for a short period and did she have anything to suggest?
I narrated in her school for over two years. The kids loved it, I loved it. Apparently I looked crazy whilst telling those stories: John caught sight of me telling my Big Ballerina story there one Saturday when we had arranged to meet after.
I looked ridiculously happy, apparently.
Give it a go!
#8 - June 05, 2015, 08:39 AM

Hey kv3. If your kids want more books to read I've got one that my nephew and niece loved (after I made a lot of changes that is. LOL) But I haven't had a kid critique in about ten months, and I always like to put it out there. My beta/critique adults love it.

@jlstovall - go ahead and PM me. I'm happy to pass your ms along too. ;)
#9 - June 05, 2015, 09:07 AM

Self Published Author-Illustrator.
Poster
  • **
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region illinois
It looks like you have some great responses already but I'd suggest school (you could call and ask to speak to the principal and let them know what you want and if they had any suggestions or teachers who would share with their class and have them write a review) or library is another option.
#10 - June 05, 2015, 09:57 PM

Global Moderator
Poster Plus
  • ***
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region longislandny
Kids will know what they like, but that only gives you the opinions of those kids. It doesn't tell you anything about whether your book meets publishing standards. You need a critique group with knowledgeable adults too. Also, kids are inclined to be either very critical or not critical at all.

I did this with my niece once. I had her mark sections with a smiley face (liked), frowny face (disliked), question mark (for anything confusing), and note how she felt (made her laugh, cry, angry...) After a few chapters, she forgot about marking up the manuscript and just finished reading it.
#11 - June 08, 2015, 07:35 AM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Member.
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida
As to finding your beta readers, I don't have kids, so I sought help from friends.

My experience with them was excellent. I have to thank Gail Nall, Jen Malone and Ronni Arno's webcast several months ago through www.inkedvoices.com (and each is a participant in Kidliterati http://www.kidliterati.com/). They provided a process for beta readers, which I used with great success: Print the mss for the kids. Send them colored page tabs and highlighters or pencils/pens. Create a key for each tab's color (see below). Ask them to circle parts that are confusing or boring.  Pay the postage for the parent to return the tabbed mss to you. After I received my tabbed mss, I scheduled a call with parent and the kids. I sent them three questions beforehand that I wanted answered, and I answered all of their questions. The phone call turned into a great discussion and brainstorming session. This was a fantastic way to receive feedback. 

My key was:

Teal - Wow, really cool! or Really interesting!

Orange - I'm confused or I don't get it.

Pink - I'm bored.
#12 - June 24, 2015, 06:18 PM
« Last Edit: June 25, 2015, 03:24 AM by DebraG »
http://www.linkedin.com/in/debragetts
Crazy Travel Adventures By Debra: http://crazytraveladventures.blogspot.com/
On Twitter: @DebraGetts

@Debra G - I love your idea, thanks for sharing it! I'm definitely going to keep this in mind for future mss.
#13 - June 25, 2015, 01:06 AM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.