A few months ago, my daughters and I attended a summer reading program kickoff that included some local authors. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the authors and ask them questions about their writing journeys. One of the authors was kind enough to invite me to a monthly author meeting. I have been going for a couple of months now, and these meetings have been fun and informative for me. Last month’s meeting left me feeling very inspired! I came home with so many fresh ideas and simply wanted to write, write, write once I got home.
I remember when I was in school, we always had to write stories that followed a certain structure with a definite beginning, middle, and end. Last month at the meeting, we discussed various types of nontraditional formats in picture books, and we looked at examples of each kind. I would classify my book Jobs of a Preschooler as a nontraditional formatted book since it simply goes through all of the activities (jobs) a young girl does throughout her preschool day.
Although we discussed 19 different types of nontraditional formats in picture books, these are some that I would like to explore more and possibly create my own versions:
- Alphabet books that tell a story in alphabetical order with limited (1-2) words per page. We looked at the book Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! by Mike Twohy, which is a great example of this idea. Even though he used only 1-2 words in alphabetical order on each page, Mike Twohy was able to tell a story of a mouse and a dog. The illustrations are definitely important in a story like this. I really liked this concept, so I decided to create my own story following this structure. For our own personal enjoyment, my daughters decided to illustrate the story I wrote. Who knows, maybe my story will turn into another book in the future.
- Counting books that count backwards from 10 to 1. 10 Little Ninjas by Miranda Paul was the example we looked at for this type. (If you read this book, make sure to pay attention to the various characters the mom portrays.) I know there are a lot more books like this at my local library, but I haven’t looked through them yet. This is something that I would like to try in the future, though.
- ABC books that focus on a specific topic. We looked at D is for Dump Truck by Michael Shoulders as an example. I decided to research this more after I got home, and I found a lot of books at my local library that are like this. After reading numerous books with this concept, I have decided to try to create my own ABC topic focused book. I haven’t gotten too far yet, but I hope to finish it within the next couple of months. Again, not sure if it will go anywhere beyond my kitchen table, but I can dream, right?
- Books that are told through diary entries. Doreen Cronin has written a few great examples of this: Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider, and Diary of a Fly. Although I have never been able to maintain a diary of my own, I would like to try this.
- Guessing books that have riddles for children to solve. We looked at Whose Hands are These? by Miranda Paul and Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play by Kathryn Heling. Guess Again by Mac Barnett is a really fun guessing book that keeps kids engaged, too. I enjoy books like these for young children because it gets them involved with the reading. I would like to play around with this idea a little bit.
- How-To books. How to Babysit a Grandma and How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan are great examples of these. These are really fun, and I would like to explore this idea more.
- Interactive children’s books. Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet is an engaging and educational example of this type of book. I love when books can be fun and educational at the same time (maybe that is the homeschooling mom in me).
Not only did we look at various children’s book formats, but we also did a fun activity together at the meeting. One of the ladies took pieces of paper and wrote random nouns on some and various activities on others. Then, she placed all of the papers face down in two piles (nouns and activities), and we had to pick one piece of paper from each pile. For example, three pieces of paper with nouns may include “a butterfly”,” a mechanic”, and “a paintbrush”. Three pieces of paper with activities may have “eats an ice cream cone”, “gets lost in space”, and “wins a prize”. These were not the words she had, but these are my examples. After picking ones randomly from each pile, we came up with ideas on how these could be stories. Some of them were very random (think of how a paintbrush would eat an ice cream cone), whereas some made sense but could still turn into something silly (think of a mechanic eating an ice cream cone). Some of the examples were very entertaining, and we had a lot of ideas to share. It was a very interesting activity that gave me even more ideas!
So, now that I have many more ideas (to add to my folder of ideas I already had), I am going to have to get busy creating more books! I am excited to see what I will learn at the upcoming meeting this month.
Have a wonderful day!