Making Picture Books is Fun!
As a children’s author, I spend a lot of time making picture books. It’s one of the best jobs in the world.
Not only do I get to write childhood stories that connect with young children and entertain, teach and inspire them, I get to have my words brought to life by talented artists. It’s amazing to see your story take shape both textually and visually. It’s one of my favourite creative processes.
My latest picture book is called Zoo Ball. It’s a fun, rhyming story about a boy named Ned who takes his big, bouncy ball to the zoo. Almost the moment he arrives, Ned loses the ball and then the chase (and the fun) begins as each animal at the zoo has a go playing with Ned’s ball.
The special thing about Zoo Ball is that it’s illustrated by children. Twenty-three Australian school children, to be precise.
The Wombat Books Illustration Challenge was established to provide aspiring young illustrators with the opportunity to be published in a professionally produced children’s book and gain an introduction into the world of illustrating. Once I’d written the text for Zoo Ball, it was then up to children to enter the challenge by sending in a drawing of one of the scenes from the book.
Winning illustrators were chosen for each page and the most outstanding illustrator was given the exclusive opportunity to design the cover for the book. If you get the chance to read Zoo Ball, you’ll see how talented these children are.
Throughout the year, I visit many schools to teach children how to gather ideas, write narratives, create realistic dialogue and, of course, make picture books. And here, today, I’ve tried to distil some of the process of making a picture book into easy step-by-step instructions that parents and children can do at home. This is a great activity for the school holidays or for any child who loves writing, drawing and creating. I hope they enjoy the process as much as I do.
How to Make Your Own Picture Book
- Plain A4 copy paper
- Stapler with staples
- Lead pencil
- Coloured Pencils
- Gel Pens
1. Fold 2 sheets of A4 paper in half to form a booklet. Staple the booklet on the left side (where the fold is) to secure the pages. Your booklet should look like this…
2. Choose a character or characters for your story – they might be human, animal or fantasy characters. You might decide to have a boy, a lion and a unicorn in your story.
3. Give your character, or characters, awesome, unusual names. Like Nester Firebreather. Or Casper Elswitch.
4. Choose a problem at that your character will face in the story. It might be that they get lost in a jungle, or lose a favourite toy at the mall. Perhaps they are trying to learn a new sport or skill. Or perhaps they have to move house and make new friends. Any of these ideas would work for your mini picture book.
5. Open up the booklet to the first page. You will have six internal pages upon which to write your story.
6. Start writing your story. Remember to keep it simple. A sentence or two on each page is perfect.
7. Spread your story across the six internal pages. Include some action and dialogue (this is where the characters speak to each other). A happy ending is always good too!
8. Once you’ve finished writing your story, it’s time to illustrate it. Add a drawing for each page and use lots of colour!
9. When you’ve finished illustrating the inside pages, make a front cover. Include: the book title, a front cover illustration and your name, ie ‘Written and Illustrated by Max Peterson’. You can use my picture book, Zoo Ball, as an example of what to include.
10. Your cover might look similar to this…
11. On the back cover, make sure you include a blurb. A blurb is a few short sentences to explain what the book is about. Also include an illustration and your publishing name and logo.
12. Now you’re ready for the REALLY fun part. When you’ve finished making your mini picture book, it’s time to share it with everyone. Make sure you read your story to your mum and dad, brothers and sisters, and anyone else who might be interested.
For printable instructions, click here.
To purchase your copy of Zoo Ball visit the Wombat Books website: www.wombatbooks.com.au.
About the Author
Aleesah Darlison is an award-winning Australian children’s author who writes picture books, chapter books and novels. Her much-loved stories promote courage, understanding, anti-bullying, self-belief, friendship, teamwork and environmental themes. In 2015, she won the Environment Award for Children’s Literature (Non-Fiction) for her picture book, Our Class Tiger. In 2012, she was shortlisted for the same award for her picture book, Warambi.
In the past six years, Aleesah has published over thirty-five books including Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine, Awesome Animal Stories for Kids, the Netball Gems Series, the Unicorn Riders Series, the Totally Twins Series, Ash Rover: Keeper of the Phoenix, Puggle’s Problem, and Mama and Hug.
When Aleesah isn’t creating entertaining and enchanting stories, she’s usually looking after her four energetic and imaginative children. Aleesah’s website is: www.aleesahdarlison.com.