When writing for children, the issue of word counts can be an issue.
Personally, I think of word counts as scales, not containers. It can be a useful tool in evaluating your story. But you don’t have to reach the “limit” and/or sometimes there is room for overage. It is definitely important to know where your story falls in comparison to others.
Here’s a cool tool to use in figuring out word counts for published books. When using the advanced search tool on this site, you can type in the name of a book and then you receive information such as the word count, reading level, and age interest level, among other things. So now you can search for a book you feel is similar to your own and see exactly how many words it took that author to tell that story.
Use it for good, not evil!
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK