Perform a quick Google search for the term “top children’s books” and you’ll immediately see a lineup of familiar favorites: Where the Wild Things Are. Green Eggs and Ham. Goodnight Moon. The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Cat in the Hat. And, for slightly older children, Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time.
These books have enduring appeal: Even if you don’t have any kids of your own—even if it’s been a few years since you were a child yourself!—you know these books, at least by title and likely by content, as well. Several of them have been turned into movies in recent years, and most of them could be obtained at your local Target right now—and certainly at any library or bookstore.
They’ve sunk their hooks in, these books—and they’ve created loyal, enthusiastic fans the world over. When you think about it, that’s sort of what content marketing is supposed to do for your business. This begs the question: What lessons can content marketers learn from children’s literature?
Lessons Learned from Children’s Lit
As it turns out, kids’ books have an awful lot going for them:
– Let us not be dismissive of the fact that many of them possess brevity—because of course, you’re not going to have much luck getting a toddler to sit still for a 900-page opus, nor would you have the time or patience to sit and read it to them! Online content doesn’t necessarily have to be short, and in fact there is an important place for long-form content. With that said, you should always be mindful of the realities of online attention spans—and precise in making your point as fully yet succinctly as possible.
– Another thing you’ll notice about a lot of these children’s books is that they come adorned with beautiful illustrations. You may have never read Brown Bear, Brown Bear or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, yet you’d recognize the book covers if you saw them. It’s no wonder kids are drawn to books packaged so colorfully and so stylishly. Similarly, content marketers understand the importance of using bright, vivid, attention-grabbing artwork and imagery, in blog posts, on Facebook, and so on.
– Speaking of style, these books have got it in spades—and not just visual style, either. Take Green Eggs and Ham: We all know the basic cadence of Dr. Seuss’ rhymes, and in fact you can probably recite some of the book from memory. It’s not just the content, but the way the content is presented that makes it memorable and winsome. (Or, y’know, not.)
– A lot of children’s books com with a moral at the end of the story—sometimes obvious and sometimes less so: We might rightly say that Charlotte’s Web is a book about friendship, whereas Brown Bear, Brown Bear is excellent for teaching your kids to recognize colors. Your online content, meanwhile, doesn’t necessarily need a “moral,” but it should have a takeaway—some actionable point that the reader can take and implement right away.
– You’ll also note that many of these children’s books are interactive. Brown Bear is one that invites you to pause and let your kids point out their favorite critters or colors, as depicted in the story. Great online content also encourages engagement—whether it’s to leave a comment or simply to share on Twitter or Facebook.
– Finally, and most importantly of all: The books we’ve mentioned here—the truly classic children’s books—all boast supreme imagination. There’s no substitute for it, not in children’s lit and not in content marketing. Don’t settle for rehashing the same ol’ articles; strive for something distinct!