How to Begin

Children’s Book

The first step in writing a children’s book is coming up with your idea. If you don’t immediately know what you want to write about, begin by looking at the different types of children’s books. Choose the one that most appeals to you, then you can narrow your topic and formulate your idea from there.

John Cech, a professor of children’s literature at the University of Florida, has authored several children’s books. “Django,” pictured here, is one of his stories.

“I think my children and adult books – works of fiction – are sparked by something that happened to you,” he said in an interview.

He explained how he came up with his idea for his book “The Southernmost Cat.” He dragged his family down to Key West when they all had vacation.

“That made it really hot,” he said.

Even so, Cech said he made his family go to the Hemingway House and the Southernmost Point. There was a cat sleeping on a pillar on the wall surrounding the southernmost house. He said he and his daughter both said that’s got to be the southernmost cat.

Back in Gainesville, Cech remembered that moment while on a run around Lake Alice.

“What if all the six-toed cats in Key West were reincarnations of Ernest Hemingway and his friends?” he thought.

He named the cat in his story Ernesto, and modeled the plotline after “The Old Man and the Sea.” The cat contemplates his previous eight lives.

“It all just came together,” Cech said. “This one kind of wrote itself.”

He said “The Southernmost Cat” came out of a mirage of experiences: six-toed cats, Hemingway, teaching American Literature and reading Egyptian mythology, which has a lot to do with cats.

“With fantasy books, you ask yourself ‘What if?’” he said. “What if Hemingway’s spirit had migrated into a six-toed cat?”