The TSE Guide to Age Ranges & Content Styles
What kind of book to write for who...
One of the most frustrating things you’ll find when trying to figure out the children’s book market is the lack of solid and cohesive information about what the age ranges for each book are and what stories (or book type) are appropriate for what age.
Luckily, we’ve put together a solid and consistent framework you can follow, listing book types, age ranges and word counts. These may be variable via country, book store, publisher, etc, however, these serve as a good baseline for general international publishing and they match up with our specific services listed in The Build-a-Book Portal where you can order your children's ghostwriting.
Scroll down to browse through the varying book styles. Alternatively, use the quick links provided below to get straight to what you're looking for:
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SHORT FORM FICTION: Up to 2,500 Words
LONG FORM FICTION: 5k to 120k Words
Short Form Fiction: Up to 2,500 Words
Board Books, Storybooks & Easy Readers
Up to 250 words
Also known as: Baby Books, Toddler Books
AGE RANGE: 0-5 WORD COUNT: Up to 250 words
PAGES (incl. cover): APPROX 20 pages (roughly 16-18 pages of story)
NOTE: If publishing via Amazon KDP, keep in mind that Amazon’s minimum page count requirement is 24 pages.
Board Books – or Baby Books, as they’re also known – are often the first book a child will ever own. These are full of short sentences with short words and a limited word count alongside simplistic, easy to understand illustrations. These books explore very simple topics such as shapes, colours, body parts, animals, etc, and if there is a plot, it is very simple and easy to follow. Some of these books have as few as 50 words in, whereas some have up to 250 words.
Examples of Board Books
Up to 1,000 words
Storybooks / Classic Picture Books generally target children anywhere between 3-8 years old. Generally, the content of these books is all about exploring emotions and empathy, emotional intelligence, acceptance, social connections and life lessons. The pictures and the words work together to tell a story that is equally balanced, both visually and verbally.
These books are generally read to children by an adult, or, as an assisted read by parents, so the language can be expressive and evocative but not too complex. Generally, these stories are told in third-person and in either present or past tense.
Out in the market, in this age bracket, you will find the wildest deviations in targeting: 3-5, 4-6, 5-7,3-8, 4-8, etc. This is partially to do with reading level but also, partially do with the interest level of the topic or theme being explored.
E.g. A storybook titled ‘Bobo and the Baby Chefs’ about babies opening and running a kitchen would be more appealing to an audience of 3-5 year olds than it might be to an audience of 7 and 8 year olds.
In general, when picking your age content here, it’s good to consider the following:
Some stories are timeless and magical and have a wider interest level and will work broadly for ages 3-8; some stories are targeted more towards the 3-5 or the 5-8 age bracket in terms of interest (see table for reference).
Wider Targeting (Ages 3-8)
If the story is a Universal concept (ages 3-8), anywhere from 300 to 1,000 words will work.
If the story is more targeted towards 3-5 year olds, keeping the story simpler and around 500 words is the sweet spot.
If the story or concept is higher level, intricate or targeted towards 5-8 year olds, around 800-1,000 words is best.
Also known as: Classic Picture Books
AGE RANGE: 3-8 WORD COUNT: Up to 1,000 words
PAGES (incl. cover): APPROX 32 pages (roughly 26 pages of story)
Easy Readers / Early Reader books are essentially longer picture books that are specifically designed for children who are just learning to read by themselves. One key difference between standard Storybooks and Easy Readers is that in Storybooks, the illustrations are just as important as the words in telling the story; in an Easy Reader, the illustrations just stand as visual support to the text.
The content of these books is often very relatable to children in this age range with a child – or younger animal or creature – in the leading role. The key is to get the child interested in independent reading so relatability and keeping it interesting and relevant to the child is absolutely paramount in these books. To do this, these stories are told with lots of action, dialogue and a quick moving story. The plot line itself is usually not too complicated and is supported by short sentences with easy wording.
Up to 2,500 words
Also known as: Early Readers, Beginner Readers, Emerging Readers or Longer Picture Books
AGE RANGE: 5-9 WORD COUNT: Up to 2,500 words*
PAGES (incl. cover): APPROX 42 - 80 pages