4 Musts for a Picture Book Biography and MLK Day

I’m not sure what kind of MLK Day celebrations are going on today, but we can have our own celebration here.  In light of that, I’ll share my all time favorite biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with you.  Why do I love this one?  Because this story is told in his own words, but more about that later.

A picture book biography is more than just a short book with a lot of pictures. It tells about a specific person but it does so in a particular way. If you are considering a picture book biography, remember that your book has to have these 4 elements. 


Very few picture book biographies tell of the person’s life from birth to grave.  That is just too much for a 36 page picture book. Instead, they tell a story.  In this book, the author tells the story of his life using quotes from his speeches.


The person you are writing about is a real person, but, within the bounds of your story, they are a character.  Even if it is someone famous like MLK, you have to assume that your reader does not know THIS character, the one that walks THIS story.  Even a famous person must be introduced to the reader.


When creating nonfiction dialogue you have to cite sources.  Where and when did he speak these words?  Nothing that you put within quotation marks can be made up. It all has to be something he said or wrote.

Kid friendly

Even if you don’t depict this person as a child, your story and character must have kid appeal.  Why would a young reader want to sit through this book?  What about it pulls the reader in?

Keep these traits in mind as you play  with your manuscript and you will have a piece that hangs together and pulls the young reader in.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s