Knowing the typical word counts of different types of children’s books will help you understand what goal you need to hit. These are only guidelines. If your word count comes in too high or low, you could raise eyebrows with publishers. Some might not even consider your work.
- Picture books – you’ll hear many people say the shorter the better. A good goal is 500 words or less. Definitely strive for under a 1000. Today’s editors and agents are looking for more story with less text.
- Emergent readers – Emergent readers might have as few as 32 words.
- Easy readers - word count will vary depending on the level. But the longer the book, the higher the level. Your best bet is to look up word counts of existing books written for the level you are writing. A level 1 reader might have 200 words. A typical level 3 or 4 reader might have any where from 800 to 1200 words.
- Chapter books - once you move to chapter books, word counts could range anywhere from the high-5000s to 25,000.
- Middle grade novels -here’s where you’re going to see a big spread, too but a good minimum goal is around 30-35,000 words. The upper end would be around 45,000. But it’s not that uncommon to see novels that exceed this.
- Teen novels -your minimum target will be slightly higher, starting from 40,000 and up.
There are figures based on my own research and numbers given to me by editors and agents. If you want to run your own analysis, Renaissance Learning is the best place for this kind of research. You may also hear people swear by different ranges. But in the end, try to come in at something “normal.” And don’t get hung up on word count if you just can’t get your work any shorter or longer. Sometimes your story won’t “fit” perfectly in the box it’s supposed to be in. And if that’s the case…I’ll tell what you can do.
Now go back to step three – write.