Different Types of Children’s Books

When I’m talking to a new children’s writer, I always ask them what they are working on. I’m surprised by how often they tell me “a children’s book.” When I press, they can’t tell me if it is a picture book vs an early reader vs a chapter book. This might seem oh so picky but it is important to know what you’ve got when you approach an editor or agent. Use a term wrong and editors will realize you don’t know the industry.  

Here are a few of the book related terms you need to know.

A board book.

Board Book

  • A book for toddlers.
  • Made of cardstock.
  • Able to hold up to rough handling.
  • Illustrations on every spread.
  • Often novelty books (cut outs, moving parts, etc.).
  • Frequently deal with basic concepts.
A picture book.

Picture Books

  • For children preschool through 8 years old.
  • Fully illustrated.
  • Text and illustrations work together to tell the story.
  • Most often 32 pages long.
  • Meant to be read aloud thus the text may be too advanced for the young reader.

Big Shark, Little Shark (Step into Reading)
An early reader.

Early/Beginning Readers

  • Fully illustrated but the illustrations do not expand on the story. They enable the reader to decode the text.
  • For children just learning to read.
  • Text is easier than that of a picture book.
  • Smaller trim size than a picture book so that they look more “novel-sized,” like big kid books vs little kid books.

Meet Yasmin!
Chapter book.

Chapter Books

  • For those who are reading independently.
  • Some black and white illustrations but no longer fully illustrated.
  • Not ready for something as long as a middle grade novel, but ready for something longer than an early reader.
  • No subplots.

Middle grade novel

Middle Grade Novels

  • For older grade school students. Remember kids read up.
  • Subplots are too be expected.
  • Books center on school and family.
  • Character is figuring out where they fit in the known world.
  • A lot of variety in length, content, and maturity but they are written for a wide variety of readers.

A young adult novel

Young Adult Novels

  • Novels for middle school-aged readers and high schoolers.
  • Not all young adult novels are sexy. There doesn’t have to be violence or swearing.
  • These readers are challening norms.
  • They are daring to make a new place in the world for themselves.
  • They question the status quo.

Not every children’s book is written for the same audience. Know what to call your type of book. That way you will know what conventions you need to learn. And, when the time comes to submit your work, you will know what to call it.

–SueBE