This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Narrative

If you haven’t heard of a literary term called leitwortstil, don’t beat yourself up – many writers have never heard of it.

If you write books for kids, this is an excellent writing tool you can use to create a lasting impact on your readers! It’s about Theme.


Artwork by Junsung Back.

Bringing back a great ol’ literary term… Leitwortstil.

Leitwortstil (which means “motto style” – pronounced like Light-Vort-Shteel) is a special way of underscoring a theme, or important concept, in your story. The way you do that with leitwortstil is by repeating certain words that you want the reader to really think about.

If you look it up in the dictionary, you’ll probably find something like this for leitwortstil: “the purposeful repetition of words that express an important motif or theme.” Traditionally, we tend to associate leitwortstil with literary works or perhaps speeches.

But we can use this in kids books probably more effectively than anywhere else. Kids love repetition. Repetition in books can be a lot of fun.

NOTE: You may have heard about “repetition books.” This is a parent’s term, not a publishing term. No agents are looking for this. But parents do, so if you’re marketing a book that uses leitwortstil, you know to use “repetition book” as a key word. You could even use that in your subtitle. (For details on how to increase sales with a great title, go HERE.)

I use leitwortstil in one of my own books, Pull This, Pull That. It works really wonderfully. (I thought you might enjoy the book trailer – it’s pretty cute.)

Kids books that use leitwortstil (that I love):

I bet you can add a few titles to this list!

3 ways leitwortstil is a great tool in kids books

  • Repeating the words over and over, especially if they are funny words that rhyme, is a terrific educational tool. This helps develop linguistic and memory skills.
  • Repeating the words over and over, especially if they are serious and about something we need to remember, is a great way of making the words something a child can say in that situation.
  • Repeating the words over and over, especially if they are loving and caring words, is a great way for someone to show how much they love a child, even if they have difficulty saying the words without the book. The book makes it ok to say.

What do you think of leitwortstil? Have you ever used it in your writing (for any demographic)? Write below, let me know – or just send me an email. I love reading those! (And yes, I do reply.)

Keep creating, no matter what.


--Download WTHeck is this Narrative Technique called Leitwortstil? as PDF --

K.C. Hill
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