If you are like me, you probably have too many picture book writing ideas and you are not sure which one to write. To tell you the truth, I have a notebook full of ideas, which is a good thing for me. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are writers who are looking for some inspiration. By the end of this post, it is my hope that you will have a page in your notebook full of picture book writing ideas and be able to pick one to start writing.
Best Picture Book Themes
A trip to the bookstore or library can be very helpful when you are looking for picture book themes. You can quickly see what types of books have the most shelf space. You can also ask the librarian or the children’s bookstore clerk to point you in the right direction. Here are some popular types of books:
- Bedtime books
- Farm books
- ABC, Numbers and Color books
- First day of school
- Dinosaur books
- Food books
I recommend you start by taking a look at the books in each of the categories. Read three books in each category and see what ideas these books inspire. When I started looking for ideas I took my notebook, wrote the title and author down and followed with notes about the book and any inspiring ideas. This does not need to be formal with complete sentences. This is your notebook to keep your story ideas.
Finding Picture Book Ideas
Once you have selected the theme, you can now come up with your great book idea. You will need your notebook again to write down all of your book ideas. A good place to start is with your own childhood. Think about some of your childhood memories. What are some things you remember from your childhood? What are some of the funniest things you remember? The saddest? The proudest? Special moments with a grandparent? Classmates and teachers from school? Any of these experiences can be the start of your story.
Whenever I am stuck for an idea, I will use a writing prompt to get my writing started. A writing prompt gives you the first few words of a story. It can help inspire you. Writing prompts are easy to find. A quick internet search will reveal hundreds. You can use writing prompts to spark your book idea. Writing prompts might just be the start of the story idea you’ve been looking for!
Listen and Talk to Children
When it comes to story ideas for children’s books, there’s no one better you can take advice from than a child. Children have wonderful imaginations. If you listen to children playing and talking with each other, you are sure to come up with an idea or two. I love to listen to children talk to learn the phrases that they use. I try to incorporate them into my stories. Maybe you have children, know someone who has children or are lucky enough to be an aunt or uncle just listen and write.
Brainstorm Characters and Settings
Brainstorming is a very popular choice for finding picture book ideas. In your notebook, try writing down a list of characters, settings, and plots. Then mix and match and see what story idea comes to light. Once you have your setting, try mixing it up with one of the plots, then mix in a character or two. You might find a funny book idea hiding in your mix up.
How to Pick the Best Picture Book Writing Ideas
A great strategy for picking your best idea is to try each idea out on paper. I am not saying write the whole story, but really think about the idea. Take your story idea and write a summary of the story, create an outline or write about the story setting. Give each idea a block of time. This is not the time to rush through this process. Do a deep dive into each idea and write everything down. Keep all ideas, but one idea will stand out and you will find yourself writing your story.
One more tip. Write about what you know. Good writing comes from a writer’s life. I wrote Gertie Saves the Day, because I had an interest in Groundhog Day since I was a young child. I learned about the origins of the holiday and I learned facts about groundhogs that helped to shape my book. Two Wins for Wiley, was a passion project for my daughter and I. Passion is another important ingredient when it comes to writing. When you are passionate about a topic the writing comes easy.
The last tip is to find your community; a community of writers to support you. A writer’s group provides support, encouragement, feedback, camaraderie and accountability so you, the writer, doesn’t give up on your dream of writing a picture book.
Now go find your idea and write your book!
I am so glad you’re here and I thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you.
I’m looking forward to helping you as a children’s book writer in any way that I can. Speaking of helping — please leave a comment below and let me know what questions you have about picture book writing.
My website has been updates and it is now interactive. There are surprises everywhere. Click on the balloons and see where they take you. Can you find two writing videos? Freebies? A chocolate chip recipe? There’s even a special freebie to anyone who subscribes to my newsletter. Check out the resources for children, parents and teachers, librarians and homeschooling families.
One last request …
You can really help this author by leaving a book review on Amazon or Goodreads. You can leave a review for Gertie Saves the Day here or here. Two Wins for Wiley here or here. Reviews can be as easy as 2-3 sentences and should take about 30 seconds to leave and would make a huge difference for me. Need help? Click here.