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Publishing Children's Books

Page history last edited by msward 11 years, 6 months ago

Publishing Children's Books











A mentor text is a piece of writing that writers use to learn more about some aspect of the writing process or craft. A mentor text inspires us to write, to revise, to publish. We will be reviewing example children’s books to use as mentor texts and models for our own writing.  Search out a children’s book written in a style that captures your attention, that is written like the story you would like to write. And once you've found your mentor text, complete the form below.












Who is the SPEAKER?

  • Who is telling the story?
  • Is the story written in first-person (I, me, mine, etc.) or is it written from an outside, third-person perspective (he, she, it, etc.)?
  • Identify the main voice within the text. Is the story written in the voice of a child or written in the voice of an all-knowing, unseen narrator?









  • The text of a children’s book is usually organized into simple sentences and short paragraphs. How is the text organized in the book that you have chosen to review?









What about the main CHARACTER?

  • Describe the personality of the main character.
  • Identify two character traits of the main character that young children identify or sympathize with.
  • What was the main problem that the main character faces in the book? How is this problem similar to a problem that most children have faced before?
  • Sometimes a children’s book character will solve the main conflict on his or her own. How did  the character in the book you selected turn to self-reliance to solve the main conflict of the story?








What about the VISUALS?

  • Some picture books have an illustration on the front cover that presents the main conflict or point of the story. Identify two or more elements from the front cover of the book you are reviewing and explain how they relate to the story.
  • What is the primary medium (collage, drawings, photographs, etc.) used in the illustrations?  
  • Identify two elements that are repeated throughout a majority of the illustrations.  Explain how these elements support the story. 








What is the STYLE?

  • Children’s book authors often employ literary tools to help make the story more vivid in the readers’ minds. Commonly used literary tools are rhythm, alliteration, repetition, refrains, onomatopoeia, simile, personification, rhyme, and imagery. Identify three different areas in the text where a literary tool has been employed. For each example you identify, state the type of literary tool that is used and how the employment of the tool helps support the story.











Product Details 




Jack Johnston's niece drew him a picture of an ice cream hotel, and that's when inspiration hit.  This could be a children's book!  Working with an independent book publisher, Mr. Johnston drafted, revised, revised, and revised until his and his niece Sarah's vision became a published children's book.  But writers and publishers don't just come together with a polished piece. Instead, there is a great deal of drafting and revision that takes place.  Mr. Johnston started with the text.




Here's just a little bit of the editing process

for the initial drafts of The Ice Cream Hotel.




Notice that Mr. Johnston not only edited 

words and punctuation, but also needed 

to revise by adding and cutting out entire

lines.  As we draft and revise, we'll need 

to keep in mind the differences between

editing and revising as our books will

need both.



Notice that even the storyboards of the illustrations have been drafted and revised.







  • Children’s Picture Storybook—A work written for children that uses both text and illustrations to present a simple plot.



  • Most picture books average 30 pages, consisting of 14 to 16 two-page spreads. A spread is the two pages of an open book.



  • The text of a children’s book should be organized into simple sentences and short paragraphs.
  • The use of active verbs will keep the story vivid in the reader’s mind.
  • Children’s book authors employ literary tools to help make the story more vivid in the reader’s mind. Rhythm, alliteration, repetition, refrains, onomatopoeia, simile, personification, rhyme, and imagery are commonly used devices.
  • Consider ending each page with a question or other method that sparks the reader’s curiosity for what will happen next.
  • Repeating a phrase throughout the story will help hold your reader’s attention.
  • Use a question at the end of the page to help move your reader to the next page.



  • Some picture books have an illustration on the front cover that presents the main conflict or point of the story. 
  • The illustrations are usually created after the text has been written.
  • Illustrations serve as a partner to the text.



  • The main character should have one or two easily identifiable dominant traits.
  • Present the traits of your characters through both the illustrations and text.
  • Young children should be able to easily identify with the dominant traits.
  • Avoid using text to present detailed descriptions of what the characters look like.  Let the illustrations present the physical details of the character.  



  • Limit your story to just one conflict that the main character must overcome.
  • The main character should be able to deal with the main conflict in concrete terms.  
  • The main character should resolve the conflict him- or herself.  
  • Four of the most common types of conflict are individual vs. individual, individual vs. society, individual vs. nature, and individual vs. self.
  • Some of the most common concerns of children include acceptance by others, family dynamics, physical growth (especially size and looks), and fear of the unknown (e.g., learning something new, participating in a new activity, going to a new place, getting lost).



  • A solid, well-developed plot is essential to creating a good children’s book.
  • The resolution of the conflict should teach a lesson. However, the lesson should not be told in a didactic way but instead be presented indirectly through the plot.
  • Jump right into the main conflict of the story. 
  • Flashbacks should be used with great caution.  They can confuse younger children.


SOURCE:   http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/children-picture-book-project-1022.html


Brainstorming the Conflict


Our Assignment Packet


  1. What is the conflict? In one sentence, describe the conflict the main character will face in your story.
  2. How will it be dealt with? In the left column, list actions that the main character will take to deal with the main conflict. In the right column, list complications that would or could result from the action listed in the left column. 



























We'll be creating our class books using Bookemon, a site that offers a number of different options for creating actual books.  To do this, go to http://tinyurl.com/wardbook


If working with partners, only one of you needs to join this site and set up a registration.  You will use your email address to sign in; however, if you do not have an email address, Ms. Ward can set up a special login for you.


Bookemon is a fairly intuitive, easy site to navigate and create books on, but in case you need it, here's a great tutorial to help you get started: CLICK HERE!




As you begin to think about how you will illustrate your story, whether you decide to use photographs, clipart, or even draw your own images, you must be away of how copyright and fair use policies impact what you can and cannot use.  


Introduction to copyright:


Keep in mind:

  • Always keep track of the original creator, the site the work was published on, and the web address for the image that you use.  You MUST give credit on the title page of your book to the original artist for each image you use.
  • You must have permission to use all the images you upload.  You will know that you have the right to use an image as it likely will have a Creative Commons designation. Where do I find Creative Commons images?  Take a peek at this site: http://search.creativecommons.org/ 


What is Fair Use?



Still have questions? Check out the wealth of resources found here: http://www.teachersfirst.com/spectopics/copyrightandfairuse.cfm




On Tuesday, October 9th we invited Ms. Leah Nicholson into our classroom via Skype. Ms. Nicholson manages the production aspects of all custom book publishing at Jenkins Group. For each of the company's projects, Leah directs a wealth of talented designers, editors, writers and printers in their day-to-day activities. 


In speaking with her, not only did we learn about the different types of publication houses, but we also learned about how a book goes through production and about considerations editors make when bringing a book to final copy.


Speaking with a Book Editor from msward on Vimeo.



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