So you want to become a great writer? Read. Read like a writer. I know this sounds almost too simple to work, but reading children’s books is one of the most important steps toward becoming a children’s book writer.

“But I already know my passion,” you say.

Great, but how are you going to write your book? Will it be a middle grade mystery or a nonfiction easy reader or a picture book? Do you know which age group you want to write for? If so, start reading good books for that age. If you were unaware that children’s books went beyond the picture book format, then read some easy readers, chapter books, and older novels.

Do you think your story needs to be told in first person? Read several books written from this viewpoint so you’ll start incorporating the techniques. Are you interested in historical fiction? Study recent titles to see how the author worked the details of the time period into the story. Do you love picture books? Check out a stack from the library and note how much of the subject’s life was covered in the book. I just did this yesterday.

As you read, you’ll find yourself drawn to a particular type of book. That’s probably what you want to write. Read like a writer.

Sample as many books as necessary until you find your niche. The Internet makes this easy: you can search sites like Amazon.com with key words that describe your idea. Also, talk to your local children’s librarian.

So experiment. Sample new genres. As you’re reading, jot down any book ideas that come to mind. Then continue to read like a writer.