The Boogie Books Blog

7 Tips to help you understand the magic of picture books

The advantage of research as you plan on embarking on the creation of a picture bookcannot be underestimated.  

At every writer’s group, writers’ festival, author talk – the one bit of advice established authorsshare with aspiring authors is simply ‘know your stuff’.  This of course, refers to knowing what it isthat makes a children’s picture book magical and memorable.

There are many ways to immerse yourself in picture books to begin this process and they include:

1.  Go to a school library and ask the librarian for a ‘tour’ of their latest acquisitions.  Ask them ‘why’ did they purchase the booksthey purchased!  Librarians have the most amazing ability to make the connection between books of literary merit, what iscommercially sensible from a budgeting point-of-view and what is culturally appropriate to their community.  They are amazingbarometers of what is important to the broader public and even better – can actually articulate why!

2. Go to your local bookshop and when you pick up a book to look at – try and ask yourself ‘why’ did I choose that book… Did I like the cover?  Did I like the title?  Did I like the subject? When I read the ‘blurb’ at the back, did I want to read more?

3. Go to the local library and look on the ‘new’ bookshelf for the latest acquisitions.  This means these are the books recently acquired by the librarians and likely to receive support in reading sessions and shelf promotion.  It is a great way to see the ‘flavour’ of books right now.  I noticed in the CBCA lists (Children’s Book Council Australia) that there was a leaning towards books which explored ethnicity and diversity this year… 

4. Choose your favourite book.  Volunteer at the local kindergarten and read it aloud to a group of children.  Have a discussion about the book.  Ask...

  • Did they like the way the book ‘sounded’ (was it melodic / rhythmic / did it make them sleepy / relaxed / excited?)  

  • Did they like the way the book ‘looked’ (were the illustrations colourful / engaging / flat and dull?)

  • Did they understand the ‘emotional intent’ of the illustrator – that is, did the colours convey anger / sadness / happiness.  

  • (One of my favourite books, ‘The Dot’ by Peter Reynolds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5mGeR4AQdM is masterful with its use of colour, exploration of a simple concept which is our self esteem, and I read it to every class starting Child Writes because it is about their journey as much as the character, Vashti!  If we don’t share and show our work, we never grow!)

4. Spend some time drifting around the Child Writes Library looking at the work of those who have gone before you… By looking through the previews in the bookstore, you get an idea of what children enjoy writing about.  Plus, look at story corner where there is always a full book to read. http://www.childwrites.com.au/Free-Stuff-StoryCorner.html

5. Alternatively – spend a morning cruising around the internet reading parents forums to see what topics parents are passionate about!  Chances are, that if you solve a dilemma, your book with prove to be more marketable and hopefully more saleable!

6. Practice story writing using on-line tools like Storybird https://storybird.com is a low risk experience with writing.  It is important to know that in Australia copyright is automatically assumed to belong to the author UNLESS you hand over the rights… Please read https://storybird.com/terms-of-service/  When you agree to the terms and conditions, an author assigns the rights to their work to StoryBird.  This means StoryBird can then use the story anyway they wish, without further consultation required with the author.

Still interested in creating your own picture book – well now go and get the jump on the first class by reading the first chapter of Child Writes: Creating a Children’s Picture Book is Child’s Play – it is also on the website! 

Share it on

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.