How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book by Bobbie Hinman
Think Like a Child—Write Like an Adult
What You Need to Know BEFORE You
Write For Children
Today I would like to introduce everyone to a lovely woman that I recently met at a book event. Her name is Bobbie Hinman and she writes the cutest books for children that I’ve ever seen!
If you’ve ever thought about writing a children’s book, here’s some of her helpful tips. For even more of her suggestions, buy her book How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book–available on Amazon.
One of the advantages of writing for children is that this gives you permission to think like a child and get away with it. But, how do children think? Having been a teacher, mother, grandmother and successful children’s book author, here are some of my observations about how children think:
Children are enthusiastic, creative and self-centered. They are eager to know what’s coming next in a story. They are excited when good things happen to the characters, their imaginations allowing them to almost live in the world of the story. Ask them what they think will come next in a story, and their thoughts run wild. Most of all, children enjoy reading books that relate to them, finding it exciting when they can picture themselves as the characters.
Children love illustrations, adjectives, fantasy and rhyme. Thriving on visual stimulation, children love bright, colorful illustrations, and prefer pages with more pictures than words. They will react far more positively to a description of a “roly-poly, yellow duck” than to just a “yellow duck.” Instead of “a big monster,” they love a “hurly-burly monster.” Children have no trouble at all believing that chickens can talk or rabbits wear clothes. They have fun believing in make-believe, so why not let them believe as long as possible? They also love the rhythm of rhyming lines and are often able to memorize a rhyming story after hearing it just a few times.
Children live in the present and seek happy endings. It’s fine to have your story take place over a few days, but when you talk about “three years later” or “when he grew to be a man,” children have no point of reference; they are not able to identify with what is happening if your story extends over a long period of time. As far as the ending of a book, I can’t think of any reason ever to have a children’s book with a sad ending. Childhood should be a time of optimism and fun. I’m not saying you should completely stay away from important issues that children encounter, such as divorce, but stories should offer young readers a resolution and conclude with a sense of hope for the situation.
Children have short attention spans. Generally, the younger the child, the shorter the attention span. However, even older children are easily bored if the material itself is boring. For this reason. it’s essential to have things happening on each page. One of the beauties of a picture book is that both the words and pictures are “talking” and “moving,” giving the young reader a lot to look at.
So, if you have an idea for a story, start by writing it down. Then find yourself a group of children — perhaps the children of your friends and neighbors, or in your local library, perhaps even a class in a local elementary school. Read them the story, watch their faces and, if you have the courage, ask for their opinions. Above all, listen to what they have to say and adjust your story accordingly. Remember that your goal is to think like a child; they already do!
Bobbie Hinman has a B.S. degree in Elementary Education and has been a speaker and presenter at numerous schools, libraries and book festivals all across the United States and in Canada. Her 5 rhyming picture books have received a combined total of 27 children’s book awards. In her new book, How to Create a Successful Children’s Picture Book, Bobbie tells you how she self-published and sold over 50,000 copies of her books. Her picture books are titled The Knot Fairy, The Sock Fairy, The Belly Button Fairy, The Fart Fairy and The Freckle Fairy. The premise of her books is simple: Who better to blame it on than a fairy? You can see more about Bobbie and her books at http://www.bestfairybooks.com
For many teens the joy of summer is exceeded only by the thrill of cash. If you are thinking, your teen should be thinking about getting a job, the time to start is now. Adolescents may hesitate to approach the world of work for many reasons. We’ve all had that feeling of being overwhelmed when we first begin a job search. We’ve all experienced uncertainty when we complete a job application. We’ve all had fear of rejection when we go for an interview. We’ve all had that frightening first day on the job. Somehow we made it through and so can your youngster–with a little help from you.
Support and encourage your teen to improve his/her chances of getting a job and hearing those two magical words “your hired.” Help him/her make that trip out into the big, hard, cold world, a little less threatening by using these tips.
Dress for the occasion. Look as if you really want this job. How to dress? Look at the other employees; consider the type of work you will be doing. Sure shots: take a shower, get a hair cut, eliminate the jewelry, downplay the makeup, cover tattoos and be conservative (forget style!). Make sure all body parts are fully covered, no midriff reveals or saggy pants. Remember the interviewer will probably be someone like your parents!
Be prepared. Show you are organized, detailed, and task oriented. What to bring? A pen, a pencil, a note pad, your Social Security Card, driver’s license, and a list of classes or certificates that are job related. Other things that might give you an edge: proof of previous employment, letters from teachers, coaches, scout leader, or your pastor, awards from extra-curricular activities or other certificates of achievement. A list of volunteer work where you have been involved with community service. Note any special skills such as handling pets, babysitting, yard work, computer skills, bike repairs, sewing, jewelry making, etc.
Have a positive attitude. No one owes you this job; prove you want it. Convey enthusiasm and a good attitude. How? Shake hands, introduce yourself, smile, have eye contact, speak clearly, listen carefully, show an interest in the company, and ask questions. Go online, find and read information about the company. During the interview be sure to mention something you found while visiting their web site. Bonus points if you address the interviewer by name; be sure to use Mr. , Ms, or Ma’am , Sir.
Show self confidence. Consider your achievements. What have you done well? What have you accomplished? What are you proud of? What do others say are your strong points? How can these accomplishments relate to on-the-job tasks? Let the interviewer know you are eager and willing to learn new job skills.
5. The 3 R’s: Responsibility, Respect, Reality Check. Demonstrate responsibility by making an appointment for the interview, call ahead to confirm the time, bring important documents with you, be on time, and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Show respect, be courteous, pay attention, take notes, respond verbally and don’t interrupt. Do not use slang words or profanity. Do not make negative comments about others.
Remember: you will probably be completing with many others for an entry level job, at minimum wage, requiring unskilled labor. If you want to be the “chosen one” remember why you want a summer job!
You have to work hard and learn at lot to get that first paycheck. When you finally land a job, give it your best. Work every minute you are being paid for. Prove to yourself and others that you are worth it.
I “met” Don Canaan online and he writes awesome books about time travel. He has a children’s book called Conceived in Liberty: A time-traveling romp through the history of the Union of Royal American States (Timeless Romps Through History Book 1). It’s free on Amazon if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member; otherwise, it’s only $2.99!
Join 2063’s most famous time traveler, Tamar Weaver, as she takes part in a hilarious, sometimes romantic, romp through history as she tries to save the Union of Royal American States.
He was gracious enough to share about my newest release, Gloria and the Unicorn, on his blog. Time travel is inevitable when you mix the natural world with the magical. Find out more on his website at www.timeweavermedia.com
So you want to take your kids camping? Do you worry how to make it fun for the kids?
Do you remember camping when you were a kid?
What did you like best about it?
Time with family?
Sitting around the campfire?
The flashlight stories?
Not having anything you had to do but just have fun?
When you plan your camping trip, here’s a surefire way to make sure your kids have a great big grand time.
Research National Parks, KOA sites, AAA list of campsites, and State Parks. Most have camp sites and are awesome places to visit.
Pack travel-sized board games and a deck of cards for those slower times (while kids are waiting for the grown ups to get dressed, etc.). (Leave the electronics at home–I know, nobody can go that long, so if you must, bring them but leave them in the car. Have rules for checking them once or twice a day only). Be sure you have a source to re-charge your electronic devices because I know you’ll be using the camera on your phone.
If you’ll be near water, bring water toys (canoes, kayaks, boogie boards, inflatable toys and floats) and water safety items (such as water wings, swimsuits with floats sewn inside, life vests, etc.)
Bring a flashlight for everyone and back up batteries. Bonus Tip: You may want to bring a telescope to enjoy a night sky full of wonder.
Don’t forget the marshmallows and long sticks for roasting (don’t rely on finding sticks lying around at the campsite). And if you family like s’mores, bring chocolate bars and graham crackers. Be sure to research the use of fire at your campsite. Some limit campfires due to droughts.
Toiletries are a must. There may not be a camp store to purchase such items. Pack them in a separate bag. Bonus Tip: Be sure it has a handle for ease of carrying to the restrooms.
Be sure to plan your meals in advance and keep them easy such as spaghetti, hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwich items, cereal. Bonus Tip: Pack individual small snack bags so kids can grab and go. Extra Bonus Tip: Bring a plastic bin to put all your dirty dishes in to corral them as well as carry them to the water source. You may want to bring a wagon for this chore). Don’t forget the environmentally-friendly soap.
Plan some “outdoor” related crafts such as whittling (if kids are old enough to handle a sharp knife), dream-catchers, butterfly nets, lightning bug jars.
Don’t forget the big items–tent (be sure you have stakes and tie downs and a fly over in case of rain). (Bonus Tip: A mat to put right outside the tent, helps to keep dirt at bay and provides a relatively clean place to leave your shoes), sleeping bags or blankets/comforters, blow up mattresses or cushioned mats, and pillows.
Plan activities to explore the area. Hike, swim, tour, etc.
If you do all of these things, your kids will have a great time and you will too! You can relax knowing everything is taken care of which will free you up to just enjoy your kids and the area you are visiting.
Be sure and share your pictures and stories from camping in the Comment Section.
What do you do when your seven-year-old granddaughter asks about your writing career? When she wants to know all the details about your work of fiction that is not suitable for a seven-year-old to grasp? If you are me, you share with her all the tender moments of the book. You tell her of the strength of the characters and share how much you loved these characters.
Then comes the moment when she asks, “When are you going to write a book for me?”
Truthfully, I had never thought about that. The idea appealed to me even as it scared me a bit. But she asked so sweetly and so seriously.
“I will do that as soon as I get back to writing in March. Will that be okay? Do you have anything special you want in a book?
“No,” she says, “I just want you to write a book that I can read. Can you do that Grandma?”
With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I assure her, “You better believe I can.”
The six-year-old, asks, “Can I read it too Grandma? Can you make it where I can read it too?”
“Me too, Me too!” Calls out the four-year-old, as he races over to the computer desk where I am sitting.
The room is abuzz with talk about books, characters and sight words. I assure each child, “Any words in the story you do not know, you can look up online and I am sure Mama will help out if hey you are all reading together.”
With the book considered a fait accompli, I left the state of Michigan, traveled back to Kentucky with children dancing in my head. As them miles stretched out in front of me, an image came to my mind. A little face, a face I knew in real life, but it was different, it was not the face of my granddaughter, it was the face of a new creature. I had my main character. Her name, Dolcey.
Before long, I had a blurb rattling around in my brain. It was perfect for these children. It was perfect for children a little older. It was playing out like a movie and I was captured by the story.
I was active on a project which left no time for writing so I noted everything and placed it on my desktop. For the next month I would add words, scene sketches and images as they came to me. As I am not one to outline or plan by nature. When I began this process, it was exciting and new to me. It was like building this story one scene at a time. Dolcey was becoming real to me. She was unique and she had a story; a story I felt worth telling.
I live with another little seven-year-old. Which means I must keep my writing tucked away from her little blue, curious, and prying eyes. If she catches a glimpse of me writing, she will sneak over to peek at the words.
The search is on for an illustrator, the words written so far, are fun but children will enjoy seeing the faces come to life, the scenes in living color and I wanted illustrations.
I reach across the ocean to a young artist that after reading the synopsis of the story wants to illustrate the book. She has high praise and that swayed me as she could see my vision on the scenes I sent. Off we go into the unknown of how to deal with an illustrator. As the writer, I saw these characters a certain way, but I wanted her to have creative freedom. I believe we compromised well enough that we are willing to follow Dolcey on another few stories.
Dolcey is already speaking to me, and Ellie the illustrator loves drawing Dolcey, so this seems to be an exciting new road we are taking.
When the cover was finished and I was uploading it for the cover reveal the blue eyed seven-year-old saw it and she hugged me and told me she loved it. I was sold. If she loves it, so will other children.
June second, the book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? will be released and I hope that children will find the characters warm and loving. I hope that children and their parents will connect with Dolcey and enjoy her magical abilities that help Emily to solve a very serious problem in her life. Dolcey is not able to take away the problem, she is simply there to assist Emily in making peace with her situation.
The beauty of the story is the strength that both girls have in this journey. As they both grow and learn while solving a big dilemma.
Sojourner McConnell is releasing her first children’s book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? on June 2 and hopes you will enjoy the story of Dolcey.
If you’ve been reading my blog long, you’ll know Natasha Daniels. I have referenced her articles and videos when I come across something I want to share with you as parents. She is a wealth of information and her specialty is anxiety. I’m honored she allowed me to interview her and I’m pleased to bring her interview to you today. Please help me welcome, Natasha Daniels.
You’ve been a Child Therapist for a number of years, what would you say is parents’ number one complaint or issue that brings them in for help?
The number one complaint I hear is “my kids don’t listen!” I think that is an issue for many of us. In the last few years, I have started to narrow my practice to treat only anxiety and OCD. In so doing, the biggest question I hear parents ask is “Why is he anxious? He has a good life. What would make him worry so much?” The answer, unfortunately, is genetics. You don’t need to have experienced trauma to have an anxiety disorder.
What was it that drew you to the counseling profession and specifically to work with children?
I was always the “helper” in my family and with friends. My father was mentally ill and I think that spurred my desire to work with mentally ill adults. Ironically in graduate school, they accidentally placed me in an internship working with abused and neglected kids. I fell in love with helping kids and it completely changed my career path. I haven’t looked back since.
I know you are a parent of three children. Tell us what changed for you personally and professionally once you became a parent.
Seriously, absolutely everything changed. Not only did I have my own children, but I had three anxious children. It opened my eyes and my heart to the struggles parents go through. I know what it feels like to feel overwhelmed, frustrated and ineffective as a parent. We’ve all been there. I also know what works and what doesn’t work with my own anxious kids. Life is messy – so is parenting. People need support, not judgment. We are all trying to do the best that we can. I try to convey that message in my therapy sessions, in my writings and on my podcast.
What do you enjoy most about helping children? Helping parents?
Children are hysterical. Their perspective is raw and real. I love that about kids! I can soak up kids all day long. The parents I work with have huge hearts. They want the best for their kids and have such power to help their kids move in a positive direction. It is amazing and awe-inspiring to see positive change happen.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you could give a parent today?
I think parents should spend more time trusting their gut and less time focusing on criticism or judgment. In this day and age, we are bombarded with opinions from family, friends and social media. Sometimes it is judgment overload and we need to take a step back and evaluate what works for our family and our kids.
In your opinion, has parenting become more difficult now that the internet is more available to children and especially even younger children?
Absolutely! There is basically a virtual back door in our children’s bedrooms where they can interact, share and engage inappropriately with others – often with people they don’t even know. We can’t pause technology or try to keep our kids cocooned. That typically backfires in a seriously ugly way. But what we can do is monitor, remain educated and keep a pulse on what is the latest and greatest social media fads with kids.
I read one of your posts about the apps that are “cover” apps that would encourage a child to participate in unwise behavior. This is scary. What can you tell parents, especially those that don’t feel comfortable themselves with the internet, about how to monitor this?
Unfortunately, I think we all need to take a crash course on technology – the stakes are just too high. There are tons of software programs and apps that monitor your child’s technology. I think it is important, even if your child gives you no reason to believe they are looking at or talking to anyone inappropriately. I have watched things spin out of control ridiculously fast without the parent knowing.
There are also online courses that can give you a crash course on technology and how to monitor your child. The best one I have seen is iParent 101’s courses at http://learn.adampletter.com.
Your website is called Anxious Toddlers. What caused you to focus on that particular issue?
Honestly, I wish I never called it that! The website was started when I wrote my first book, How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler. The publisher suggested that I create a website to support the book. Ironically the site took off and became a huge passion for me. Within the first few months of launching the site, I knew the site was going to be a project in and of itself. I wanted to expand it to kids of all age right for the beginning.
I have moved recently to calling the site AT Parenting Survival for All Ages to convey that message – but the website URL is still AnxiousToddlers.com.
I know you have expanded to include all aged-groups of children with anxiety issues. Do you plan to expand the topics or issues that your website addresses?
I am currently working on my latest course, Parenting Kids with OCD. I also have a third book in the works called, OCD Sucks! A Survival Guide. So, I am definitely going to be talking much more about OCD on my site and on my Podcast.
In general, my long-term vision is to make my website almost exclusively about parenting kids with anxiety and OCD of all ages.
Thank you so much for participating in this interview! You’re doing great work. Keep it up! I look forward to reading and watching your next post.
Imagine your child is experiencing intense emotional distress that vacillates between crying spells and episodes of explosive anger. His sleep is restless, and he’s having nightmares. His appetite has decreased. He refuses to attend school, and the teacher is texting you at least three times a week to report disruptive behaviors. The days turn into weeks, then months, and you learn your child is becoming aggressive toward classmates and siblings. His mood bounces up, down, and all around. He will not talk about the problem. Eventually the school counselor recommends therapy outside of the school setting.
Many parents feel stunned or intimidated by this recommendation. They don’t know what to expect or where to begin. But children can benefit greatly from therapy, and it does not have to be a mysterious process.
Begin by contacting your health insurance company to…