Art and Craft: Books about Writing for Children

Okay. I admit it. I’m a compulsive book buyer. For years, some of the books that made their way to my shelves were books about writing for children. How many craft books can one person have? A lot, apparently, because this is just a sampling (in alpha order) of what’s on my shelves.

Click here to download the entire list below.

Children’s Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling by Martin Salisbury and Morag Styles (Laurence King Publishing, 2012)

Salisbury, a professor of illustration, and Styles, a professor of children’s literature collaborate, each bringing their expertise to explore the history of the genre, the nature of picture books as the primary literature of early childhood, and the art of picture book-making.

From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books by Kathleen T. Horning (HarperCollins, 2010)

Horning provides a practical overview of children’s literature, as well as clear descriptions and definitions of the “parts of a book” and all the considerations one must address when analyzing/evaluating/reviewing books for children.

How to Write a Children’s Book and Get It Published by Barbara Seuling (Wiley, 2004)

Currently in its third edition, How to Write… will provide a wonderful overview for those just getting started writing for children. 

It’s A Bunny-Eat-Bunny World by Olga Litowinsky (Walker & Company, 2001)

The book’s subtitle reads: “A Writer’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Competitive Children’s Book Market.”Divided into two parts: “Background” and “Foreground,” this book provides a brief history of the beginnings of children’s publishing in America, as well practical considerations, such as editing, submissions, and marketing.

Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang (Chronicle Books, 2000)                   

Artist/Illustrator Molly Bang discusses the implications and emotional impact of shape, color, and composition on the reader/viewer of a piece of art. Paired with the chapter in Horning’s book called, “Picture Books” under the sections titled “Illustrations” and “Visual Elements”, Picture This is a must for those wanting to study the dynamic interaction of text and illustration.

Picture Writing: A New Approach to Writing for Kids and Teens by Anastasia Suen

This book has a little bit of everything – plot, character, setting, and more. Each section covers information on elements specific to writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for children.

Show & Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration by Dilys Evans (Chronicle Books, 2008)

This elegant book features detailed and thoughtful analyses of the illustrations, techniques, and lives of nine prominent artists working in children’s books today. As Chronicle Books’ editor-at-large Victoria Rock so aptly states on the back cover, “Reading this book is like taking a master class in the fine art of children’s book illustration.”

The Children’s Picture Book: How to Write It- How To Sell It by Ellen E.M. Roberts (Writer’s Digest Books, 1987)

This book, with an original copyright of 1981, is admittedly one of the oldest resources on my shelves. As such, it provides a lovely overview of numerous classic picture books, including a wonderful chapter called “Picture Book Principles.”

The Way to Write for Children: An Introduction to the Craft of Writing Children’s Literature by Joan Aiken (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998)

Chapter two in this no-nonsense introduction to writing for children begins: “Warning: writing for children may not be as simple as you think.” I couldn’t agree more…

The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb (Writer’s Digest Books, 2001)

While writing essays as part of my VCFA – MFA requirements, I often returned to Section II: Foundation & Structure.

With chapters such as “Breaking Ground: How to Begin the Beginning,” “The Mid-Story Crisis,” and “Journey’s End” there’s a little of something for everyone in this book.

Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book by Leonard S. Marcus (Dutton Books, 2002) 

Marcus interviews fourteen prominent authors and author/illustrators on the role of picture books as both art form and part of the “culture of childhood.”From the introduction:“In each of these interviews, I have searched for the thread or threads that connect the life work to the life story and individual works to one another… What impelled these gifted men and women to devote their adult lives to the literature of childhood?”

Words About Pictures: The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture Books by Perry Nodelman (University of Georgia Press, 1990)

This book is not for the faint of heart, as it is definitely text book reading. As such, I readily admit that I have *not* read it cover to cover. But I have dipped in and, one of these days, when long stretches of time allow, I will read it more closely. This is a book for the serious student of visual literacy and the relationship of text to art.

Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication by Ann Whitford Paul (Writer’s Digest Books, 2009)

Many books on writing for children devote no more than a chapter to picture books. This book delves into it all. Having had the wonderful pleasure of taking many of Ann’s classes, I know first-hand that Writing Picture Books is equal to the sum of her years of teaching and writing experience, neatly packaged between the covers of a book. 

Writing with Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books by Uri Shulevitz (Watson-Guptill, 1997)

Writing with Pictures is a must have. While at least half of the book is specifically dedicated to a discussion of technique and the considerations an artist must address when illustrating a book for children, it also provides a very necessary foundation for non-illustrators, myself included, who are interested in writing picture books.