John’s Reading List For Writers…“Writing Picture Books” by Ann Whitford Paul

The end of this week will mark the sixth week since submitting “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” to a publisher in England named Chicken House, Ltd. for their “Open Coop” submission day. (The six-week mark is when we will know whether we have been selected or not.) While waiting, I thought it might be good to share a few books which were helpful to me during the writing process. These may be helpful to those of you who are writers hoping to be published.

Although the title may make you think this book is not for you unless you write children’s picture books, there is valuable information here for any writer, regardless of intended audience or preferred genre. Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul taught me a great deal about writing any kind of book. (There is even a section on poetry which Amelia found very helpful and inspiring.)

Her book helped me consider how the elements which make a good picture book also make a good novel. For example, instead of the two-page spread, there is the chapter. The things which make you want to turn the page of a good picture book are the same things which make you want to turn the page of a good novel.

As I was writing, How To Explain Christmas To Chickens, if I couldn’t imagine a chapter as one or more two-page spreads, I knew something was probably wrong with it. If there were big sections which couldn’t be illustrated, I began to question their necessity. This wasn’t because I wanted to write a picture book, but because I wanted to write a book that would “draw” pictures in the minds of my readers and keep them turning the pages.

Writing Picture Books provides many important general keys to writing a story of any kind and for any audience. In fact, when reading many of its passages, it is unlikely you would realize you were reading about writing children’s picture books. This may not be a book to add to your shelf at home, but if you are a writer or an aspiring writer of any type of book, it will likely give you some helpful advice and may be available at your local library.

Never underestimate the power of a picture book! Even as adults, we can find our favorite picture books from childhood sneaking into everyday conversations. I’ll bet you remember The Little Engine That Could and “I think I can, I think I can.” One of my own favorite expressions lately is, “I’m just a Pokey Little Puppy today.” (Of course, even pokey little puppies can have naughty days!)

Wouldn’t it be great to be the author of a book that created such lasting memories for your intended audience? No matter their age? No matter their preferred genre?

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

10 thoughts on “John’s Reading List For Writers…“Writing Picture Books” by Ann Whitford Paul

    1. Yes, I can see you doing that! And this is a great resource too. You may be able to find it at your local library or local bookstore the way I did. “Under A Hen’s Wing” would be a great title for a children’s picture book too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As a kinder sub there are a few constants in the classroom library and the Poky Little Puppy is one of them. Never knew there was a sequel. I may have said it before on other blogs but my all time favorite Golden book is “the Sailor Dog” by Margaret Wise Brown. I still have my original copy. Note: beware of current editions of Poky et all, as the Little Golden book company has reduced the number of pages of many of their classic books to keep the price low.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is hard to explain the thinking of a three or four year old, even if that kid was me, but I studied the pages showing the inside of the dog’s boat for hours. If I could have that, I figured, I’d have everything I need in life. That said, if you search the book out, try to find an older ‘complete’ edition.

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