How Long Did It Take To Write Your Favourite Children’s Books?

It may have taken you mere minutes, hours or even days to read, but everyone has a favourite childhood story that sticks with them through their life. For many parents, reading to their child plays a huge role in their relationships with their child, often stemming from their own experience of reading during their childhood.

But how long did it actually take the creative minds behind these stories to produce some of the best-loved books of all time?

Even the shortest book can make the biggest impact, so we decided to take a look at how long some of the best-known children’s authors took to create their masterpieces – is your favourite children’s book on our list?

We also wondered, when looking at these children’s favourites; which of the authors wrote the highest number of words per day?

Our findings showcase:

  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis took the longest to write at 10 years.
  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond took the shortest, taking only 10 days – but has sold over 30 million copies to date. From this, Paddington would go on to appear in a further 27 stories in the original book series, five TV adaptations, and two films.
  • A children’s book takes, on average, around three years, one month to write.
  • A single children’s book contains, on average, around 37,261 words.
  • Despite taking 6 years from concept to publication, The Snowman contained no words at all.
  • Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’ took only two years to complete despite containing 112,815 words, taking the same amount of time as Eric Hill took to write his 65-word Where’s Spot?
  • Despite it’s huge impact on children’s literature, ‘The Boy In Striped Pyjamasby John Boyne took just two and a half weeks to complete.
  • Compiling all Beatrix Potter’s letter illustrations and stories into book form took her a whole year.


We studied the best children’s books of all time according to The Telegraph and to compile a list of book titles which represented the very best in children’s literature in the toddler to teen age range.

The information was then used to search for evidence of the time taken for each title to be written by the respective authors. If no information was available, the title was omitted to prevent the results and averages from being skewed.

Information was taken from the author’s official websites, Wikipedia pages, Publisher’s websites, or author interviews.

Where direct data referring to the exact time it took for the title to be written was not available, we used the year in which ideas or concepts were mentioned which later formed the story as the starting point, and the publication date as the date of completion.

Where books were compiled from magazine installments, we used the date of the first installment and the publishing date of the compiled book as the time taken to write.

Once the data had been located on the time taken to write the titles, as well as how many words each contained, we then worked out the average time taken to both write the stories and the average word count for each title.