Write It Right: Picture Books 101

Many writers who think about writing for children will automatically be thinking about picture books. For some, this is the only “children’s book” they can imagine. For others, it’s all about warm memories of beautifully illustrated books they read as a child. So, the first thing most folks write for children is something they envision being a picture book. And most of the time––almost 100% of the time––that first effort is not what makes a picture book.

Sometimes it might be a short story and it might be good. Sometimes it’s simply a sweet vignette. But rarely is it a picture book. Picture books are unique creatures in the world of writing––especially picture books written by those who are not professional illustrators.

Picture books are a marriage of two totally different story telling styles. The writer tells a story in words––either prose or verse. The illustrator tells his or her own story in pictures. And the two story styles together bring something deeper and richer than either could do alone. Even though the author and illustrator usually don’t interact, the story is truly something created by both. The book at the end isn’t the author’s book or the illustrator’s book; it belongs to them both.

To understand picture books, to truly understand them, and to know how to write them, you need to read them. (Actually, this is true of any genre!) In this episode, discover four things to look for when you’re reading picture books as mentor texts for writing your perfect picture book.

Listener Question of the Week

Keri asks:

How do you get important messages across in a book for children without sounding too preachy?

Listen to the answer in the podcast!

Download this episode's show notes
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