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Picture book ideas – Where are they?

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Picture Book Idea Month

In search of picture book ideas

November is a month swarming with picture book ideas. Why? Well, it’s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) and there are hundreds of children’s book writers focused on the single task of coming up with ideas for picture books. Often, when writing for children, writers pick up the trail of fairy tales.

PIck up the trail of picture book ideas often found in fairy tales.

Where to find picture book ideas

Thinking up picture book ideas during Picture Book Idea Month PiBoIdMo

Wall decal for writers

Picture book ideas are found everywhere from the mundane events of daily life to the vast richness of historical events. Coupled with a dose of wonder, you’ll find picture book ideas ranging as far as the planets and as close as the blade of grass under your toes.

Fairy Tales and Fables – A wealth of picture book ideas

For centuries writers have drawn from the deep well of fairy tales. Not just the Brothers Grimm but from fairy tales the world over. I remember as a child gobbling up those big books of fairy tales bound by countries. I particularly enjoyed the French fairy tales but there are many others. Take a look at Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale.

History – The mother of many picture book ideas

You don’t have to go that far down memory lane to find picture book ideas but you certainly can. Look at the constant delight children find in the age of dinosaurs. Many children’s book authors have found history to be a treasure trove of picture book ideas and often add a dash of whimsy. See The Knight and the Dragon.

The Back Yard – Daily inspiration found outside for picture book ideas

Backyard life inspires picture book ideas.Let’s face it, the backyard is the arena for children when they go outside. Exploration and curiosity fuel a sense of wonder. Look at the success of the Ladybug Girl series and read more about The Ladybug Girl series.

Stories we tell our children – Easy source of picture book ideas

There’s not a grandmother around who hasn’t told a story of some kind to a grandchild. This is an easy source of inspiration for picture book ideas. Bedtime stories often provide the kernal of great picture book ideas. George Sand’s hours of telling tales to her grandchildren led to The Castle of Pictures: A Grandmother’s Tales .

Family history – Generational stories become picture book ideas

We all grow up with stories handed down from generation to generation. Tales of our grandmothers and grandfathers, stories from the lives of our parents. All these can provide the fodder for picture book ideas. Laura Ingalls Wilder fictionalized the tales from her family to create the children’s classic A Little Prairie House.

Holidays – Plumb the well of holidays for picture book ideas

Holidays provide a great resource for picture book writers and they are attractive to publishers. After all, the holidays come around every years. Take a peek at The First Thanksgiving: A Lift-the-Flap Book

A child’s life – Life Lessons start early to offer picture book ideas

Life lessons inspire picture book ideas like Potty by Leslie PatricelliEven babies are not immune to life lessons. These moments can provide a great many ways to tell stories. Here are two examples: Potty and Big Sisters Are the Best.

Daily family life – Nonstop source of picture book ideas

Let’s not forget the antics of our beloved pets and children. Years ago Erma Bombeck made a career telling stories on her own family. Today you’ll find picture book writers drawing on their own experiences and that of their family like that depicted in Boom! Boom! Boom!

Science and Nature – The sciences offer many picture book ideas

Not all picture books have to be fiction. Many successful picture book ideas come from a writer taking science and breaking it down for young readers. Take a look at Motion: Push and Pull, Fast and Slow and Lightning.

When it comes to nature you’ll find many books about bugs. Kids are simply fascinated with bugs. They love bugs.  There are books about butterflies, of course, as well as books about those workaholic ants and, as mentioned above,  even more books about the lovable ladybugs. What else in nature continues to delight small children?

Real life events – Picture book ideas are often drawn from real life.

True stories provide great picture book ideas.Whether it’s your own personal story or that of someone else, real life is jam-packed full of story ideas and many can easily be translated into picture books. Twelve year-old Xan Hoffcraft did just that in his personal retelling of his life with a cheetah in How it Was With Dooms: A True Story from Africa.

My PiBoIdMo Update

Why am I fixated on picture book ideas? Well, I’m currently participating in PiBoIdMo so I’m trolling daily for picture book ideas. These ten categories for sources of picture book ideas have helped me in the past so I thought I would share them. My first three ideas this year have been culled from history. What about you? What creative wells do you draw from when you are on the hunt for picture book ideas?

Share your thoughts and ideas below as I love to hear from my readers. (You might want also want to read about the way picture book writing helps writers.

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Series NavigationPicture book ideas populate November
  • Jackie Wellington

    This is a great post. I am also participating in PiBoIdMo. I find this information fascinating. I am at the library and as I read a book mentioned, I tried to find it. But this -public library – does not have most of the books mentioned here. There is LADYBUG GIRL. But that’s it. This is sad. I don’t mind spending money on books and great books at that. But how can we expect these books to get in the hands of children if they do not know they exist?
    I loved this post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Vikk Simmons

    Hi Jackie, I bet if you go to Barnes and Noble you can find the Ladybug Girl series there and maybe some of these others. Also, you might try a local independent children’s book store, too. I know what you mean. :)

    Thank you for leaving a comment and letting me know how much you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. Helps me. :) Good luck with PiBoIdMo!

  • Jackie Wellington

    No problem. I loved the post.

  • Juliana Lee

    Luckily for me, I do know most of those titles. I taught 1st and 2nd grade for 30 years, that’s an awful lot of picture books! The trick is coming up with something unique and lasting. Personally, I look to family history and the zoo newsletter for inspiration.

  • Vikk Simmons

    I agree. It’s that unique angle that makes all the difference. Now, the zoo newsletter is definitely something I hadn’t heard before; however, I could see that becoming one of my resources. Great idea, as is family history. 30 years of teaching definitely helps you know what’s out there. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate it.

  • J.D. Faver

    I wrote a ton of children’s books when my older granddaughter was little. I wanted her to be a reader, so I wrote her a bunch of books starring her. When she was a little older, she would help me with the story line. We had a great time and she has a voracious appetite for books. She just made a series of 15 water colors to illustrate a funny poem I wrote. She always liked it, so I may be forced to figure out how to format it as an ebook. Her artwork is amazing.

  • Kathy Mc Graw

    I am quite sure I do things backwards. First I have the idea, then get drawings…then write :) I never heard of the picture book ideas group, but sure piqued my interest, and loved the ideas.

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