Top 20 Articles About Picture Books

This page is all about picture books. Over the span of 7 years, I have written a lot of blog posts about picture books. I've interviewed other authors. I've done dozens and dozens of book reviews. The 20 blog posts listed here are the best of the best when it comes to my own picture book writing advice.

1. Top 10 Story Elements for Picture Books

Today I'm writing about something that will hopefully help each of you (and myself) learn to write better, even novelists. The craft of writing. The writer's craft. Let's look at some books that model those writing elements.

2. Writing a Picture Book is Hard Work

Today I'd like to welcome Nancy Stewart, guest blogger, and author of One Pelican at a Time. She shares her insight with us on the act of writing picture books from beginning to end. Welcome! "Yep, I’ll admit it. Hard work. That’s what it is. You have to think as a child, put yourself in a child’s place and always be aware of the child within yourself. That’s the tricky bit..."

3. Picture Books 101

I just read an e-newsletter from ICL (The Institute of Children's Literature) about how to study picture books. Since the newsletter is distributed via e-mail, I couldn't link to it. I thought it worthy to share with you. Here are the highlights.

4. Types of Non-fiction in Children's Books

There are many more nonfiction books in the adult reading world than there are in the children's realm, but nonfiction children's books are HOT (and probably always will be)! And since picture books are a form, not a genre, each type of book listed here would be an example of a nonfiction genre or sub-genre, if you will.

5. Children's Fiction Categories

Board books: 0-200 words. Ages 0-2. Most are written by illustrators or written in-house. Often have pop-ups, sounds, and teach concepts. Very difficult to break into. SOME board books are actually picture books disguised in the board book format, but many believe it shouldn't be that way.

6. How Do You Know When Your Manuscript is Ready?

We all struggle with the answer to this question, whether it's a picture book, or not. In fact, Quinn of seeing, dreaming...writing, started a great little debate on the topic, titled Writers Revise. He mentions how we all revise differently, as we all write differently. Some of us only revise three times, while others of us revise thirty-three times. It depends on how you define revision, too. Some may see changing four or five words in a PB ms as a revision at its final stages. Others may see it as simply a polish up. No matter how you look at it, PB writers know that every word counts. Maybe that's why...

7. Picture Books vs. Picture Storybooks

As I navigate through shelves of PB's and books about how to write PB's, I am slowly learning that it is easy to turn something simple into something not-so-simple. I have a few posts on PB's already. The *asterisk indicates ones that mention word count.

8. Three Ways to Research Your Picture Book Idea

Has my idea been done before? As I write down new ideas all the time, and especially this month during PiBoIdMo, I wonder if they've ever been done before. I've heard that there is no such thing as a new idea, but I'm not sure that's true. There are a million topics to write about and sometimes one topic has been written about a million times. But it only takes "a new idea," or rather a new twist on an old idea, to create a fresh new story plot. When I'm ready to begin writing on a new project, I like to see how it's been done before. There are three ways I do this:

9. The Hook, the Hook, in a Picture Book

As writers, we all know that our stories must have a hook, something to grab our readers' attention. If we don't use a hook, they may not continue past the first chapter, page, paragraph, or even the first sentence. But a hook is more than just an attention getter. It's a page turner. Writers of chapter books and novels use...

10. The Three-Minute Solution

I had about a dozen books checked out from the library. And renewed. Twice. I read them. And I read them to my children. And we reread a few of them. I hesitated turning them back in because I had been procrastinating the act of writing them in my reading journal.

11. 10 Ingredients for a Great Picture Book

In part of an Institute of Children's Literature interview with Kim Norman, author of Crocodaddy, she discusses the 10 things that are good to include in a picture book in her article, "The Picture-Perfect Picture Book" (2009).

12. Picture Book vs. Short Story

How do you know when your children's short story is more for a magazine or could it be a picture book? Short stories, or magazine stories, tend to run much shorter (and I'm not talking teen mags) than PBs. Most magazines that feature fiction only have a small amount of space to use for it. Word count for magazines, even nonfiction, is very strict. Don't go one single word over.

13. 6 Tips on Writing Picture Books

Author, Kathleen Pelley, advises these 6 tips to anyone wanting to write a picture book, as found on the guidetoliteraryagents.com editor's blog. 1. Read Aloud...

14. Nonfiction Fun

I know most of us writers write because we have a story to tell. I think that's especially true with picture books. But in this specialized field, it is extremely hard to break into print, especially when writing fiction, even if it IS a good yarn.

15. Word Choice in Picture Books, part 1

Sometimes as children's writers we wonder if there are word lists out there for us to use. Schools do have word lists for each grade level, but I don't think a children's writer necessarily needs to utilize them. YA novels have a fairly well-established audience that knows how to use context clues, and how and when to use a dictionary. Actually, the same goes for middle-grade novels.

16. Word Choice in Picture Books, part 2

Last Wednesday, I wrote about the importance of expanding children's vocabulary by using bigger words, even though they may not know exactly what they mean - in picture books. Today, I'd like to write about how difficult writing a picture book is. Picture books are often considered the hardest to write. Why? You have to tell a whole story, with setup, character, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution - all in about 700 words.

17. How to Study, Analyze, or Dissect a Picture Book

How Can We Keep Our Manuscripts Out of the Slushpile? By studying others that were considered to be gems! So how does one study, analyze, or dissect a picture book? First, identify what makes a picture book work. What makes it a gem?

18. How to Write a Good Beginning

At the beginning of a race, the gun goes off and the runners take off running. They don't stop until they reach the finish line. As writers, we want our readers to make it to the finish line, too. When writing the beginning of your story, we have to think of the reader and what will make them continue to read more. Should it be plot driven or character driven? That is the question.

19. Picture Book Length, Differences, and Word Count

How long is a picture book? According to Book Markets for Children's Writers 2010, there are three different types of children's books (Early Picture Books, Traditional Picture Books, and Story Picture Books). From having read well over 100 picture books in less than a year, here is the average breakdown for word count.

20. Picture Books Are Powerful

If you don't think that picture books affect children, think again. These two books had a profound experience on my 3-year-old and my 6-year-old. Books impact children in a positive way, even at the youngest of ages. They might provide coping skills, be an outlet for laughter, or start a though-provoking discussion. What conversations are you having with your children about books?

How to Analyze a Picture Book with a Story Board

Keep on keepin' on...


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