If you are a writer, attempting to create a children’s picture book for the first time, you need to keep these facts in mind.
About Picture Books
Picture books usually have 32 pages, with about 28 pages of text. Each page has a color illustration; either a single illustration or double-page spread.
The target audience for most picture books is children of ages 3- 8 years. However, there is also a large market for picture books aimed at the older audience, aged 9 to 12years. But these stories and illustrations are much more complex and detailed.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Research your subject. Read loads of picture books – the current favorites and the classics. Google for advice from established picture book writers, hold on to the information that works for you. Talk to mothers, teachers, librarians – all the people who know and deal with children on a daily basis.
- It is helpful to work with a ‘dummy’ book. So, make a 32-page mock-book. Keep it real by copying all the features of a real picture book – title page, endpapers etc. With a ‘dummy’ book, it is easy to see visually whether your text is working well or not.
- Even in a picture book, the story should have narrative tension. There should be a problem that is resolved leading to a warm happy ending. The story should pack a punch and have an emotional impact on the reader.
- Remember to avoid moralizing or talking down to your young readers.
- The text should be kept at fewer than 500 words as far as possible.
- Since the picture books are written for the youngest readers, sentences should be short and easy to understand.
- Remember to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’. Minimize description and allow the pictures to provide the visual details in the story.
- Imagine the illustrations as you are writing your story. This will allow you to use appropriate words while cutting down on the surplus text.
- Read and reread your work aloud. Since picture books are often aloud to children by parents, your story should read well aloud. It should have a good flow and rhythm.
Advice from Publishers
- Publishers generally suggest that writers of picture books should avoid writing in rhyme. Rhyme –texts are extremely difficult to do well and majority of them don’t work
- Unless you are a very accomplished illustrator, avoid illustrating your own book. Leave the job to a professional.
The general consensus among children’s writers is that picture books are the genre hardest to get right. But with the right advice and enough elbow grease, there is a good chance that you will hit the bull’s eye. Happy Writing.