Publishers and moviemakers are always on the lookout for their next hit. Who’s to say they won’t find it in someone still in grade school?
Child authors show us that there’s no minimum age requirement to sit at the bestseller’s table. From epic fantasies to dating advice, these young writers have some brilliant ideas to share with the world.
The Youngest Child Authors in History
Here are some of the youngest child authors in history and their bestselling works.
1. Christopher Paolini
Having finished high school at just 15 years old, Christopher proceeded to write his first novel, Eragon. He was 18 when his parents’ company published the book. One year later, when a larger publisher Knopf republished the book, it soared to the New York Times bestseller list. Christopher then wrote three more books in the series, which spurred a film adaptation in 2006.
2. Anne Frank
Anne Frank’s diary detailed her harrowing experiences of hiding with her family from Nazis before being sent to a concentration camp. Her story has impacted more generations than perhaps any other book penned by a child. The book was published two years after she died of typhus, still in a concentration camp, when she was 15.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has been translated into over 60 languages and is a mainstay in many literary curricula across the world.
3. Mattie Stepanek
Mattie Stepanek was a boy who had a rare muscular dystrophy but managed to become a New York Times bestselling author of five books of poetry. He was also a lobbyist and peace advocate for people with disabilities. He passed on in 2004, just short of his 14th birthday.
4. Alexander Pope
The classic writer Alexander Pope was a child genius, known for translating major works and writing epics in his early teenage years. He was 12 years old when he wrote his first major piece entitled Ode on Solitude. When he was 21 years old, he published Pastorals.
5. Alec Greven
When Alec was 9 years old, he watched his male peers getting rejected left and right by cute schoolmates on the playground, and decided to write a book called How to Talk to Girls in 2008. This self-help book was meant to help his friends pick up girls better, and became a New York Times bestseller, with practical tips like skipping the sweatpants and combing your hair!
After his first bestseller, Alec went on to write many other titles, including Rules for School, How to Talk to Dads, and How to Talk to Moms.
6. S.E. Hinton
Always an avid booklover, Susan Eloise Hinton was not content with the books being published for young adults. She was only 15 and still in high school when she started writing The Outsiders.
The book became a bestseller by the time she entered college, and the newfound popularity resulted in an overwhelming sense of pressure that caused a two-year period of writer’s block.
Although she wrote other books, The Outsiders continues to outperform all the others, selling almost 14 million copies.
7. Jyoti and Suresh Guptara
Twins Jyoti and Suresh were 11 years old when they finished writing the first draft of a fantasy novel entitled Conspiracy of Calaspia.
Within six years, the novel had soared to the bestseller list. This inspired them to expand the story into a 2,000-page trilogy, and earned them a spot on Schweizer Illustriete magazine’s “100 Most Important Swiss.”
8. Daisy Ashford
Daisy Ashford was 4 years old when she wrote her first story, but her most popular work is The Young Visiters, the manuscript she wrote when she was 9! It was published in 1919 and when J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, penned the introduction to her book, many readers believed him to be the author.
9. Dorothy Straight
Four-year-old Dorothy Straight wrote How the World Began as a gift to her grandmother, but her parents saw potential and sought out a publisher for her story. Pantheon Books published it two years later when Dorothy was only 6 years old!
10. Christopher Beale
When Christopher’s mother had him write a story, he spun off a 5-chapter novel entitled This and Last Season’s Excursions, about a boy and his toy animals, all over lunch break! Guinness World Record calls him the youngest child author.
Who Is the Youngest Bestselling Author?
Christopher Paolini was 18 years old when Eragon was published. Although other children have become published authors at younger ages, the Guinness World Records recognizes Paolini as the “youngest author of a bestselling book,” with his book selling more than 33 million copies.
Can a Child Write a Book?
Storytelling comes naturally to children, making them a great source of imaginative stories. If they don’t have the technical skills of actually “writing” yet, they can still create their own stories by dictating them to an adult who can transcribe them.
In terms of publishing, the rise in modern technology has made it easier for anyone of all ages to publish a book. Although children don’t usually get offers from traditional publishers, a child can always self-publish their book with the help of a parent or adult.
If you haven’t yet read a book written by a child, try out some of the titles listed above. You will likely find yourself pleasantly surprised and challenged by the insights that someone younger can offer.
Or, if you know a youngster trying their hand at writing, give them some encouragement and inspire them with these success stories.
Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:
- 30 Classic Children’s Picture Books
- How to Write a Children’s Book: Tips on Length, Illustrations, and More
- 15 Best Children’s Books of 2019: Inspiring Reads for Little Ones
- 21 Great Freelance Children’s Book Editors
Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.