Monday, 16 February 2015

Reading to Write - Why the Aspiring Picture Book Author and Illustrator Needs to Read Picture Books

Part of the process of writing and illustrating children’s picture books involves reading them, lots of them, and not just reading them to children but really studying them and analysing them for yourself.  This helps with many things, you get to know the picture book form, it gives you a feel for their rhythms and their concepts.  It helps you to get to know the market, what is popular and what you like and don’t like and what you want to emulate.  It goes without saying that you need to read the pictures as well as the words too.  All of this undoubtedly informs your own picture book writing and illustrating.

Here is a video of me reading Leo The Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus and Jose Areugo, 1971, Harper Collins to my son.

***UPDATE - Video removed due to refusal of permission to show it - UPDATE***

Next month sees ReFoReMo, the Reading for Research Month Challenge run by Carrie Charley Brown.  It’s an opportunity to read ten selected mentor picture book texts along with a community and may provide new insights and approaches into analysing picture books.  Registration is open now, I’ve signed up if you want to join me.

I have been planning on sharing my picture book analyses on my blog for sometime.  A resource that I am using for a framework for this is Eve Heidi Bine-Stock’s “How to write a children's picture book : learning from The very hungry caterpillar and other favorite stories”, the first of her three books about the picture book form.  Of course I will reference other theories from books on the craft of writing too.  The first book that I will analyse is “Leo The Late Bloomer” by Robert Kraus and Jose Areugo, 1971, Harper Collins.  Ideally I should analyse current picture books to get a clear idea of today’s market but I think there is value in looking at the classics too.  And I’m sure I won’t be covering the same ground as ReFoReMo as a result.


And here’s a great review of Eve Heidi Bine Stock’s book by author, Nancy Freund:

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