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Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  557 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Create engaging stories for the youngest readers!

Writing picture books takes a unique set of skills. After all, you only have thirty-two pages to bring your story to life for readers ages two to eight, and the adults in their lives. Your text must be tightly focused yet leave room for illustrations to tell part of the story. And, of course, picture books should be a joy t
Paperback, 248 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Writer's Digest Books
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I’ll be using this for my

2019 Read Harder Challenge
Task #9. A book published prior to 1 January 2019, with fewer than 100 reviews on Goodreads

“The best characters stay with readers and listeners long after childhood—”

If you’re an aspiring children’s books writer and/or illustrator and want to know more about the craft and about sharing your work; if you’re a sceptic, highbrow reader who thinks picture books are an easy-peasy affair, not worthy of your attention; OR if you’re like me
Lisa Ard
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you don't have access to a picture book writing class, or even if you do, this is the book for you. Step by step, Ann Whitford Paul leads one on the journey of writing a picture book, from how to generate ideas to how to target publishers and promote your book. Each chapter ends with an exercise for the budding writer to try on their manuscript. A couple chapters into the book I thought I should takes notes. By the end I figured out that this is a book to own. It's full of resources, tips and ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-on-writing
A handy guide to writing picture books. I learned a few things I didn't know that are specific to the genre and style of writing, and these new tips will most certainly help with future publication endeavors. However, I was a little off-put by Whitford Paul's tone on occasion - there were some moments when I felt like I was being talked down to. ...more
Anna of Mleczna River
This book is packed with great tips on how to create mostly children's books but one can apply the tips to story writing in general. ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helpful and encouraging throughout, with all kinds of leads and suggestions on other places to look for wisdom about the world of picture books. This has been a fantastic jumping-off point for my efforts to polish a handful of manuscripts and start sending them out into the world.
Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Writing Picture Books width=

QOTD: What is your favorite picture book from your childhood?

I have been planning to write a picture book for a very long time and have it illustrated by my son. This book was a fantastic source of information and insight. It gave me the right tools to help me write a better story and directed me to so many children writer resources. I still have a way to go before I see my book on a bookshelf, but at least I have a much better idea how to get it there. If you are also interested in writing for
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is sensational!

The author approaches the daunting task of publishing a children's book and makes it approachable.

Her exercises are realistic and helpful.

This guide is now a welcome, constant reference!

Sarah Nelson
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Simply put, if you want to write picture books for children, you need this book.
I've been re-reading some favorite books on writing while staying close to home. This one got me thinking about ways to improve some older manuscripts I have waiting in the files. Hooray!!
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it.

Master the Art of Writing Enthralling Tales for the Youngest pre-and emerging readers!

Fully updated and thoroughly revised, Writing Picture Books Revised and Expanded Edition is the go-to resource for writers crafting stories for children ages two to eight. You'll learn the unique set of ski
I used this book to take a deep dive into studying how to write picture books & it was a great companion. The writing is honest, positive, clear & warm --felt like being in a class with a very experienced professor and fellow learners. There were a number of concepts, like page-turns, poetic language, and a clever rubric for making sure important structural elements appear where they should at the beginning of a story, that I probably should have learned when I in college for children's writing ...more
Emily Veinglory
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WRITING PICTURE BOOKS is a title I expect to be referring to over the next many months. It is set out with some solid factual advice about picture book structure in the beginning, and about picture book publishing at the end. In the middle each chapter gives you a different aspect of the book to consider and work on – from structure and prose style to naming characters and an accommodating the split audience of child and parent.

The book is designed for a person with a draft manuscript or at lea
Rebecca Upjohn
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-writing
A detailed guide to the many aspects of writing picture books. From analyzing existing texts to trying exercises for identifying and practising various techniques the author offers different filters through which to evaluate what makes a picture book work and what doesn't and how to apply it to a writer's own work. It covers everything from children as readers, story structure, creating characters, scenes, pacing, language choice, creating a dummy to sharing and submitting your story. Positive a ...more
Laura Thomas
This comprehensive instruction guide specifically for writing picture books is outstanding! Packed with valuable information, it covers every aspect of writing for young children—from story structure to making a mock-up book to submitting a manuscript for publication and everything in between. Personally, I found it perfect for improving an existing manuscript and was amazed at how the finished story shone in comparison. I will certainly be using this book with every future picture book story an ...more
Harold Underdown
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I don't review many books about writing: there are many good ones available for many different purposes, from the general to the very specific. But Writing Picture Books is such a comprehensive and useful book for anyone working in this genre, from beginners to published authors, that I have found myself recommending it often in emails and at conferences.

Here is a more detailed review:
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writing picture books revised and expanded edition, by Ann Whitford Paul is a brilliant resource for anyone interested, or in the process of writing a picture book.
This book covers everything you could ask for from the first seeds of thought to publication and beyond.
Excellent book and very well written.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
May 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book has been a great resource to me time and again. Great basic information about every aspect of picture books, from ideas and topics to rhyming and making a dummy. I love this book and will continue to use it.
CloudOfThoughts_Books Keirstin
Writing Practice Books Revised and Expanded Edition by Ann Whitford Paul is a great, useful book! Great tips and advice.
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of Writing Practice Books in exchange for an honest review.
Yamile Méndez
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Invaluable resource for anyone in the business of writing picture books.
Leyla Johnson
An interesting book and would be pretty helpful, written more for someone who has already got a manuscript ready, rather than for someone that is thinking about writing.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Emma by: Mr. Pangier
You have 32 pages to tell a story with a clear moral. You have 32 pages to keep the young reader engaged. You have 32 pages to have a realistic character with feelings. You have 32 pages for the illustrations to tell stories too.
32 pages on a children's book. About the amount of writing on 1 sheet of paper. Isn't much, but quite a lot. You can't make the story too easy. The story must have meaning. But just hinted out. Not written. Your story must be interesting. Something everyone would like t
Beverly McCall
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now that I am a grandmother, I find myself fascinated with picture books. Hence, I wanted to know more about them. So, I turned to Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing picture books. I learned a lot about this genre and now have a new respect for picture book authors. Ms. Paul provides a hands-on approach to the process of picture books. She dispels the stereotype that picture books are easy to write. I enjoyed this informative text with an ample quantity of examples, lists of resources, and writing pro ...more
Picture Books, they are books for people who can’t even read. They are meant to be read aloud. I never thought of the structures and how one is built. I never imagined that my favorite childhood picture books took a long process and many aspects to consider inorder to create a master piece. Reading this book has definitely helped me to get a better understanding of the before, during, and after process of creating and publishing your own book. Although the book I am making now will not be publis ...more
Ena Kanai
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This Book was actually really really helpful for me because it told the me how the child feels while we read boring book and a fun book. The writer is a professional, so it was actually really helpful for me (to us) to write a children's book for our language arts project. (which is pretty challenging)

I really recommend this book to people who struggle to write any kind of books. (not only children's books) It does tell you some tips for writing a children's book, but other wise, you can apply
Katherine Norland
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thought writing picture books were simple. Then I dove into this book and realized there is a lot more to it then I thought. At first I felt a little overwhelmed by all that I didn't know, and a bit discouraged at what I thought was going to be an easy undertaking. A lot of my problems were pointed out in here and how to fix them. Then toward the end of the book I was very excited to delve back into my manuscript. ...more
Cool Kid
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-to-2020
This book is great for helping people that have to write a children's book, as it has many great steps and tips which are easy to understand. For example that it is better to have fewer words as that lets it sink into the young reader. As the book gave good tips and steps to write a children’s book I was able to finish the children’s book pretty easily. This book can help anyone to write better. I would recommend it to all people that are starting to write children books but also for the people ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Plenty of solid advice. There were parts I was able to skip over because I really didn’t need a refresher on similes, metaphors, and personification (among others concepts). I also felt like there were parts where some of the authors advice was a bit indulgent when it came to using examples of her own work. Altogether worth the read.
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this comprehensive guide to writing children's books. She gives many examples of books that correlate with the subjects she addresses. She also gives specific assignments at the end of each chapter to help the reader practice what she is teaching. Well worth the read and I'm sure I'll read it at least a few more times. ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
While I was struggling to write a children's book, I found Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul. This book showed steps to write a book, and it was very easy to understand. This book gave lots of examples that have helped me a lot. I recommend this book to people who are going to write picture books. ...more
Ms Bright
Mar 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Better than most of these guides. Some really practical advice, and none of the questionable (downright incorrect) guidance from the likes of this one.

Unlike some other guides, I don't think the author missed any aspect of the industry. An excellent, thorough, and well-updated book.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I've read on writing! So helpful and clear. This is fantastic for picture book writing. Coupled with Writing Magic by Levine, you have a complete age range of how to's for children's writers. ...more
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Picture Book Writers 1 7 May 30, 2010 12:25PM  

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ANN WHITFORD PAUL, author of 'TWAS THE LATE NIGHT OF CHRISTMAS has always been crazy for Christmas, but overwhelmed by it, too. Afterwards she is worn-out and dreams that someone like Mrs. Saint Nick could help her out with the resulting chaos and mess.

Ann graduated from the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University School of Social Work. She became inspired to write picture books after yea

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