Welcome to Day #11 of Bloggers Read Across the Globe — Promoting Children’s Reading and Literacy
Children’s Literacy Headline: 2012 is Australia’s National Year of Reading — a campaign initiated by Australian public libraries, state and territory libraries and library associations, and supported by school libraries and the National Library of Australia. Campaign organizers compiled a wonderful list of resources about children’s reading and literacy. Please visit Love2Read for details.
In honor of the Love2Read campaign, I’m pleased to present “5 Essential Tips for Writing Picture Books” by Dianne de Las Casas, award-winning author Founder of Picture Book Month, and international storyteller. Dianne’s spreads the word about the importance of literacy through her philosophy that, “It indeed takes ‘a village to raise a child and that we should all think of ourselves as a team, working together to help our children succeed.'”
Here’s Dianne’s report about writing picture books that children will love to read for a lifetime:
When I am at book signings or doing school visits, I often hear the question, “What advice do you have for someone writing their first picture book?” People are eager to learn the “secret” to writing a runaway best-selling picture book.
There IS a definite art to writing a picture book. For me, a perfect picture book is a seamless integration of pictures and words. They fit together like peanut butter and jelly. The words and the pictures might be good alone but they are GREAT together.
A Universal Theme
Contrary to popular belief, picture books do not have to have a message although they often do. If there is a message in a picture book, it should be subtle and left for the reader to decipher. What is important is a universal theme, a theme that readers can relate to: love, bedtime, friendship, teamwork, etc. Even humor can work as a theme. “The Dot,” by Peter Reynolds landed in USA Today’s Top 100 Children’s Books because of the book’s universal theme of creativity.
The Page Turn
Never underestimate the power of the page turn. Every good story needs to take a breath or have a moment of suspense. The page turn can be that quiet pause or that dramatic reveal. New York Times Bestselling book Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin has an extremely successful use of the page turn, building the readers’ anticipation for the next moment in the story.
If you are not the illustrator, think (don’t write) visually. The story can be rich and full but there must still be room for the illustrator to work, stretching the confines of the story. Often, the subcontext of the story can be found in the illustrations. Tell your story adroitly with an economy of words. Leslie Helakoski and Henry Cole demonstrate this perfectly with their book, “Big Chickens Go to Town.”
Picture books are meant to be read aloud… in classrooms, in library story times, and at bedtime. Read your story aloud. Have others read your story aloud. Does the rhythm work? Is the story too long? Too short? How do others react to the read-aloud? Remember that you are writing for children and their keepers (parents, teachers, and librarians). Your book must sound good to everyone hearing it. Maurice Sendak’s, “Where the Wild Things Are,” is one of the greatest children’s books of all time. Read it out loud and you’ll know why.
Jacket Flap Copy
Finally, write your jacket flap copy, that brief synopsis inside the dust jacket of the book. Even picture books, as short as they are, need to be summarized. Can you sum up your book in 1-2 sentences? Every author needs to be able to tell people what their book is about.
Okay, here’s a bonus tip. Have fun! Play with your words and have a ball. Remember that once in print, your picture book is forever. You are leaving a legacy. If even one reader is touched by your message, you are making a difference.
Dianne de Las Casas is an award-winning author, storyteller and Founder of Picture Book Month. She tours internationally, presenting programs, educator/librarian training, workshops and artist residencies. Her performances, dubbed “traditional folklore gone fun” and “revved-up storytelling” are full of energetic audience participation. Dianne’s professional books include “Story Fest: Crafting Story Theater Scripts”; “Kamishibai Story Theater: The Art of Picture Telling”; “Handmade Tales: Stories to Make and Take”; “Tangram Tales: Story Theater Using the Ancient Chinese Puzzle,” “The Story Biz Handbook,” and “Scared Silly: 25 Tales to Tickle and Thrill.” Her children’s books include, “The Cajun Cornbread Boy,” “Madame Poulet & Monsieur Roach,” “Mama’s Bayou,” and “There’s a Dragon in the Library.”
Please visit Dianne’s website at www.storyconnection.net to explore all of Dianne’s wonderful books and storytelling adventures!
ENTER THE BRAG GIVEAWAY NOW!!