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

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  390 ratings  ·  68 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
Paperback, 248 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Writer's Digest Books
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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.
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
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 ...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:
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.
Yamile Méndez
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Invaluable resource for anyone in the business of writing picture books.
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
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is power. It gives us knowledge that helps us write powerful and enjoyable children's book for of course children and even adults to enjoy. The book gives us clear important points in bullet points and gives us examples of a chicken and a fox. On each bullet point, it gives us useful and powerful information that will change our book to look high standard and better quality. It taught me that...Must include pictures since the readers are the adults reading it to the non-readers
Make the
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 ...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.
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.
A.C. Paige
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.
Cool Kid
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. 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.
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.
Donna Mork
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Great book about how to write picture books, from getting an idea all the way through seeing it published in book form. Lots of hints and tips on editing and getting the story out there. I'd recommend this to anyone who thinks they want to write picture books. Great information.
Lisa Richards
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent reference and guide for the beginning writer. The author takes us step-by-step through the writing and revising processes as well as how to market a picture book. I hope to get many years of use out of this book, and I'm excited to try my hand at writing a picture 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.
Naomi Krueger
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book for anyone who wants to become a children's book writer. I recommend it to every aspiring children's writer I meet! It's basically a writer's workshop in book form, with best practices, writing tips, and exercises for writing picture books.
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I think I'm going to be referencing this a lot this summer.
Lauren Kerstein
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft-books
This is a must read!
Oula Kahaleh
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Walter de la Mare said, "Only the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young."
The perfect guide in the world of picture books.
Koyuki Cooke
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you have a problem writing a picture book, this book can really help you. This book really helped me and my group making a story and I think it is very beneficial. This book "Writing Picture books" is full of unique skills of how to write a book. This book taught me important skills that we should have in order to make an enduring children's book. To make a good book I think you need to read this book so it can guide you through the process.
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
I would have got more out of this had I read it about 5 years ago, but would still recommend it to a picture book newcomer.

Here are some things I'm definitely going to do after reading this book:

A character sketch, even for picture book characters. Although I know of this step when writing complex texts for older readers, it had honestly never crossed my mind that I should be filling out character sketch forms for my picture book people.

Always make a dummy. I’ve already learnt that you can’t
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
If you have a problem writing a picture book, this book can really help you. This book really helped me and my group making a story and I think it is very beneficial. This book "Writing Picture books" is full of unique skills of how to write a book. This book taught me important skills that we should have in order to make an enduring children's book. To make a good book I think you need to read this book so it can guide you through the process. I read this book with Koyuki and Kate! It's little ...more
Terri Lynn
Nov 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing, nonfiction
I had been attracted to this book by the cover and inside art in the first place. This is exactly the kind of children's book art I adored. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.

The author adds absolutely nothing new to the conversation about writing children's picture books. It is just a trite rehash of advice that has been available for many years.It is annoying when she is endlessly repetitive such as when she kept using the story of the goose that laid the golden egg in various forms
Christy Dorrity
Sep 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Food to eat while reading: Nuts and Bolts trail mix (

What I liked:

The author has an easy style that makes reading a how-to book pleasurable, in fact, I set aside my current novel to read it.

Each chapter has an exercise that you can use to strengthen your work in progress, using the tools from that chapter.

This book allowed me to look at all of my WIP with a fresh perspective. The writing advice Paul gives is universal and helped me look more simply at the YA novel I am
Zoraida Rivera Morales
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for anyone who wants to write picture books. It helps write and revise. She goes into detail about how to write the book and gives specific suggestions on what to check to revise. Whitford Paul brings examples from different books to clarify her points. This book has a section devoted to having a critique group thats the best Ive seen around. Included is a chapter on what to do to get published that has excellent suggestions. Its a book I will keep in my reference library ...more
Gayle Pitman
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Great book about children's picture book writing. I found the writing exercises peppered throughout the book to be very helpful. I particularly appreciated Paul's discussions on voice and perspective, rhythm and plotting, and character development. I'm not trained in creative writing per se, but I found the creative writing component of the book to be stronger than what I've found in other children's book writing/publishing books. I do wish there was more focus on the publication aspect, as it ...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