I'm typically a young adult and adult fiction writer. However, I work with kids in Kindergarten-Fifth grade. Often, I 'm asked why I don't write for that age bracket.
Because it's hard people. Very hard.
Young kids are tough critics and they like what they like. There is no predicting what will tickle their fancy.
On the other hand, kids are always up for a well told story! Recently, I did attempt a children's book with some success. Here are a few things I learned along the way when it comes to writing for kids around the ages of 4-8.
1. Your story has to have a beginning, middle, and end. Yeah. I know. Seems like a no brainer right? But have you read a some of the books floating out there for 4-8 year olds? Some of these stories wander around with cute ideas and characters, but never seem to really go anywhere with the action. Stick to the basics people! BME!
2. Good must triumph over evil. Bad guys don't win. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one, but for young kids, that's what they want. It may not be real life, but that's not what most kids (or parents) are looking for when they pick up a kid's book.
3. You can teach a lesson, but it better be told without a lecture. Don't preach. Write your story in a way that entertains and gets your point across without making your young reader feel they are being yelled out.
4. Potty talk is what it is. Disney always pulls this trick in their movies and the kids love it. Something about poop and vulgar sounds is always good for a laugh. Yeah, it may be annoying for us adults, but the kids...well, they're kids!
5. Keep your story fast paced with quick transitions. Children aren't looking for you to be the William Faulkner of children's fiction. They want the story to progress. That doesn't mean you should leave out details, but saying "the grass is green" instead of "the grass was a light shade of hunter green with just a touch of speckled pollinated dust on it" is probably just fine. Save your longer descriptions for the stuff that really matters to the story. Unless, of course, your story is about grass.