Many of my favorite childhood memories are seasonal in nature. Building snowmen and then warming up with hot chocolate. Growing pumpkins. Stomping in puddles. Running through the sprinkler.
Holiday foods trigger memories as well—Mom’s turkey stuffing, Grandma's apple pie, Great-Aunt Ida's melt-in-your-mouth butter mints. I’m sure you have many delicious memories of your own!
These seasonal and holiday memories can be a rich source of story ideas. I've written about some of my own seasonal memories in Applesauce Day, which is based on our family tradition of making applesauce. Finding a Dove for Gramps, a story about the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, grew out of a memory of participating in a bird count with my father. Mining those memories—focusing on what I saw and felt at the time—helped bring the stories to life.
To a child, everything is new and exciting. Where adults see a messy morning commute, toddlers see something sparkly and surprising falling from the sky. Older kids see snow forts, sledding, and potential snow days. In truth, snow is all of those things; it’s simply a matter of perspective. When you write for children, try to see your subject through the eyes of a child—not your adult lens.
Think back to your own childhood. What memories stand out when you think about each season or holiday? Transport yourself back to that moment. What did it feel like, smell like, taste like? What delighted you—or even scared you?
Take some time to jot down the answers to these questions, and consider how you could add them to your story. Capturing those sensory details will enliven your writing, and will be sure to delight your young readers as well!
Lisa Amstutz is the author of more than 150 children’s books. She specializes in topics related to science, nature, and agriculture. To learn more about Lisa and her books, visit www.LisaAmstutz.com.