5 Tips For Writing A Children’s Picture Book

5 Tips For Writing A Children’s Picture Book

writing a children's picture book

Have you ever considered writing a children’s picture book? Because children’s picture books are so short, it can be challenging to tell your story effectively. You have limited space, need to use an age-appropriate vocabulary, and your words have to inspire an illustrator to create vivid pictures. Some writers make it look easy, like A.L. Wegwerth, author of I’m Going to Be a Hockey Star. But writing a picture book is a complex undertaking that takes special skill. Fortunately, A.L. Wegwerth has stopped by to share five of her top tips for aspiring picture book writers. Read her tips below.

I write this as an avid picture book reader as well as a picture book author. I’ve also worked in children’s publishing for over fifteen years so I have an inside perspective that tends toward practical, and for that reason this advice may resonate with some people and not with others.

Without further ado, here are five quick tips for aspiring picture book writers.

Tip #1: Read, Then Write.

If you want to write a picture book, make sure you read picture books. Lots of them. The quality of picture books produced gets better every year. Soak in each book’s wisdom, its innovation or its simplicity. Figure out which authors resonate with you and why. Reading widely also has the added benefit of helping you better understand the picture book market in terms of what gets published and potential comps for your book. I can’t emphasize enough that if you have a goal of getting your book traditionally published, there needs to be a perceived audience for your book. Which brings me to my next point . . .

Tip #2: Consider Your Audience.

A picture book has two audiences: the child and the parent whose lap the child sits on. Make sure your story has elements that appeal to both. It not only makes bedtime or story time more enjoyable for the parents, but I truly believe it affects your book sales. People are more likely to purchase a book as a gift or recommend it to others if they found it enjoyable (and not just their kid).

Tip #3: Choose Your Words Carefully.

A picture book is a collaboration between an author and illustrator. Make sure your words leave space for the illustrator to tell the story. As a picture book writer, focus on action and dialogue and avoid descriptions unless they are vital to the story (the illustrator can take care of that.) Picture books are great ways to build kids’ visual literacy (i.e., the ability to read and make sense of visual images). The words and art work together to tell a story; when the words repeat what is in the illustrations, the story becomes redundant.

Tip #4: Keep The Story Moving With Page Turns.

There are so many things I love about the picture book format, but I think my favorite is how effective page turns can be. Page turns aid in pacing and, when done effectively, help keep readers reading. Page turns can act as a cliffhanger, reveal something surprising, add humor, or create excitement or suspense. Use them to your advantage. When writing your picture book, consider the book map—what text will go on each page. Don’t forget to leave space for the title page, copyright info, etc.

Tip #5: You Are Not Beholden To Rhyme.

If you’re thinking that you should write your picture book in rhyme, don’t. If writing in rhyme doesn’t come naturally, please don’t try. What are some clues that your rhyme is not working? When sticking to the rhyme scheme dictates the plot of the book. When it feels forced, like when you awkwardly structure sentences simply to maintain the rhyme. Rhyme can also feel overused if you’re using a common rhyme scheme. All this said, if rhyming comes easily to you, by all means run with it. But there’s nothing that will make me close a book quicker (or, at the very least, groan audibly) than a book with an unnatural or forced rhyme.

These are five tips for picture book writing, but I could have written five hundred. I think the biggest thing that has helped me in my picture writing is to give up the idea of perfection—especially on the first draft. I’ve found that the more I write, the better my work becomes. So keep writing!

More About The Book

hockey picture book

The very first hockey practice can be a little scary, but not if you are planning to be the world’s greatest hockey superstar! Follow the action and relish the dreams of a confident young boy as he begins his journey to hockey stardom. See what happens at a hockey practice, learn about the excitement and fun of the game, and experience the lovable chaos of the ice arena. With humor and a little bit of attitude, A.L. Wegwerth has written a great introduction to the sport, while Alana McCarthy’s vivid style brings the game to life for future hockey stars.

Aimed at kids ages 3-7, the story was published by River Horse Books.

Buy it on Amazon.

More About A.L. Wegwerth

A.L. Wegwerth, AKA Amber Ross, writes books for kids that are filled with imagination, playfulness, and humor. She’s a product director by day, a hockey coach by night, a mom 24/7, and an author in the early morning (and whenever else she might fit it in).

Read my interview with A.L. Wegwerth on my Hockey Rivals Books blog.

Follow her on Twitter.


5 Tips For Writing Children’s Books That Are Timeless #KidLit #MGLit #Writers

5 Tips For Writing Children’s Books That Are Timeless #KidLit #MGLit #Writers

tips for writing kids books

It’s every writer’s dream, isn’t it, to create a timeless classic? To craft a story that appeals to thousands, and continues to bring joy, wonder, and comfort long after we are gone. Books like:

  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
  • Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon
  • E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web 

These books contain magical ingredients that stand the test of time.

What are these ingredients? Several accomplished, award-winning children’s book authors, editors, and publishers shared their thoughts on what makes a children’s book timeless. Their answers are below. My hope is that you glean at least one piece of advice to inspire, improve, or motivate your writing. If you haven’t begun to craft your story, then hopefully one will trigger a brand new story idea for you! But before we dive in:

An incredible bundle of resources and tools to help you create your own timeless children’s book just landedbut it won’t be here for long.

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And now, what makes a children’s book timeless…


“You need to create a totally immersive experience. It’s the true essence of what makes a story, undiluted by extra characters and subplots. Consider every detail when creating your book, from the tone of the art to the thickness of the paper.”

Award-winning author of children’s books Grumbler, Joyride, and Pling’s Party,  Arielle Haughee is the owner of Orange Blossom Publishing, an editor, speaker, consultant, and Executive Vice President for the Florida Writers Association.

Make sure each element blends together to make the story come alive for children in a magical way. Matching the physical elements of the book to the character and theme of your story creates excellent immersion for the reader. If you ensure everything on the inside and outside of the book is the best quality  and shares a lasting message you will have a timeless children’s book.”


It all comes down to emotional connection. If your book finds a place inside a reader’s heart, it will stay there forever.

Laura Backes is a Random House published author, editor, agent, educator, and the publisher of Children’s Book Insider, Children’s Writing Monthly, and co-founder of WritingBlueprints.com. She says what makes a book timeless is…

“Emotional connection. Create it with relatable and honestly crafted characters who participate in a story built upon universal emotions of childhood. Combine these with vivid settings, well-flowing dialogue and a warm author voice and you have the recipe for a classic.”


“Write a children’s book with a unique character. This is the key to creating a timeless book. With a great character, it doesn’t matter if you have a common plot because a compelling character will take the reader on a completely unique journey through new eyes. (Think: Harry Potter, The Cat in the Hat, The Little Engine That Could, etc.)”

Author Brooke Van Sickle has won multiple awards for her children’s books including the Moonbeam Children’s Award, the Royal & Purple Dragonfly Awards, and Mom’s Choice for honoring excellence in children’s books.


“In the world of middle grade novels, a timeless story is characterized by connection. If a young reader devours a book while hiding under their covers with a flashlight, a connection has been made. If a young reader gasps, and pauses, and holds the book next to their heart for a moment before continuing, a connection has been made. If a young reader wakes up in the morning, worrying about the main character, a connection has been made.”

Middle Grade publisher and senior editor at Chicken Scratch Books, Kiri Jorgensen, continues, “So how does a writer build that connection? It’s all about the character. Middle grade readers have to relate to the character’s choices, voice, and motive. When they can relate, understand, and appreciate those elements, they’ll dive into completely foreign worlds so they can continue to connect to the character they love.”


“Relatability is another word for the underlying themes that relate to children’s lived experiences and curiosities according to their age level. By unearthing what the real themes below your story are about, you get to see if your story has universal underlying themes that will stand the test of time. Balance emotion and action so it’s not all emotion or all action. Action or movement keeps your story lively to avoid boredom and emotion keeps us engaged on a heart level.

Former literary agent and university professor Mira Reisberg is an award-winning author/illustrator, the acquiring editor and art director at Clearfork Publishing/Spork, and the founder of the Children’s Book Academy, an international children’s book writing and illustrating school.

Now it’s your turn

Which of these 5 timeless methods of storytelling would you like to try? If you love these ideas, but want more detailed help on how to DO everything listed above…

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Please note that this post contains affiliate links, however, I only promote products that I recommend.

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