How long is the attention span of your target audience? If you are writing for a pre-schooler, you know it probably isn’t very long! The target age group of the audience you hope to attract will determine how many pages your book should be. The industry standard general guideline for a children’s picture book I have found is as follows:
Board books for ages 0-24 months. The word count here is minimal, maybe one to three words on a page. Lots of color with fun illustrations, textures, and patterns will keep both the adult and child entertained.
Picture books are typically target ages 3-7 or pre-school to second grade. The story can be fiction or non-fiction. Personally, my children’s books contain several themes and opportunities for education in science, social skills and friendship. The word count is recommended at 500 for fiction and up to 1,000, but no higher, for a non-fiction story. That said, the actual page count, with illustrations, is between 32 and 48 for this age group. Pages need to be in multiples of four (4). That is for printing purposes. I learned this from experience😊
Chapter books for ages 7-9 have approximately 6,000-8,000 words. As this age group can be a many different reading levels, simple sentence structure and language is very beneficial to the young reader. Some pages may include drawings or pictures but the emphasis is on the text.
Juvenile fiction, or middle grade chapter books, are written for elementary and middle schoolers ages 8-13. The word count is much higher, 30,000-more than 50,000 words. Again, as in the chapter books for middle grades, there are few if any illustrations. For a non-fiction book, however, a great visual benefit to the topic of the book, like photographs with captions, can add to the comprehension of the topic.
Young adult books are enjoyed by many older adults, too! The length of these books is usually 40,000 to over 70,000 words. This makes it challenging enough for youth 13 years of age and older and a quick fun read for an older adult.
Research is key before you write your children’s book! Writers love to share their knowledge of writing. Many published resources are available to help you get started researching, writing, finding an illustrator, pros and cons of self-publishing versus pitching your book to a publisher. Head to your local library or go online, sign up for a writing course at the local college or community education program. Then when you are ready, write the first sentence!