When a child finds a book that they love, he can become a reader for life. But what makes a good children’s book? What qualities should it possess to make a child hold onto its memory and message?

If you’re an aspiring author or simply someone who loves kid lit, and you’re trying to answer these questions yourself, here are some tips to help!

It’s all about imagination. Kids love to use their imagination, and their favorite books take their imaginations to new levels. Think about the most popular children’s books—Harry Potter, Where the Wild Things Are, even the Oz series—they all use enormous amounts of imagination, and kids remember them for life.

Create strong, memorable characters. Children’s fiction is not the place to play around with unlikeable, complex characterization. You need a hero, and you need a hero that your young readers will want to be best friends with. In Night Buddies, John is the character that kids relate to, but Crosley is the one that stands out to them because they want to be his best friend too!

Think about the lesson of your story. Good children’s books don’t need to end with a cheesy, “And this is what he learned,” line, but they do need to offer kids insight into some kind of moral or life lesson that they are still trying to grasp in their lives. We turn to books in order to understand something about the world we live in, whether we are reading as children or adults, and it is important that children get this from the very first books they read.

If you’re a writer, think about incorporating these tips into your own stories. Don’t forget to let me know how it goes in the comments!