3 Must-Haves for a Picture Book Biography

I’ve been reading a lot of picture books lately and one of my favorites has been Pies from Nowhere by Dee Romito.  It is the story of Georgia Gilmore who was part of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Never heard of her?  That brings you have to have in a picture book biography. . .

An Untold Story. If you want to sell your work to a publisher, you have to find a story that hasn’t already been told.  That can be hard to do with a well-known figure like Martin Luther King Jr. because the book that you write will have to compete with those already on the market place.  Instead of writing about King, Romito wrote about Georgia Gilmore.

A Marketing Hook.  Especially if no one has heard of the subject of your biography, you are going to have to find a hook.  What is going to sell your book?  Romito solved this problem by choosing a civil rights story and a subject who knew and worked with King.  The publisher and bookstores alike will know how and when to market this book.

Kid Appeal. If you’ve found an untold story with a marketing hook and it doesn’t have kid appeal, you still have one more hurdle.  You need to find a way too hook young readers.  What about your story will appeal to them?  There’s a lot about this story that will pull young readers in.  Number one?  It involves keeping secrets.  Georgia helped hide the identities of the other women so that their jobs were not at risk.  Not only does this involve a secret, Georgia is heroic helping with the boycott at risk to herself.  Like Georgia, young readers will imagine themselves as heroes as well.

A top notch picture book biography is entertaiting as well as being a great learning tool.  But to make it to your young readers you first need to find an untold story that has a marketing hook and kid appeal.  Are you up to the challenge?

–SueBE

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