What to Consider - Part 3
So what makes a picture book successful? What does that successful story look like?
As a parent, a successful story is one that has greater/meaningful purpose AND attracts the child to pull it off the shelf repeatedly.
When writing a picture book, here are some things you need to do or consider:
1. READ picture books. Read top selling picture books. Read those picture books you see being raved in reviews and online platforms. And then read some more. This will give you true insight on what makes those books successful. You will notice a pattern and jot down notes if you need to.
2. RESEARCH. Make sure you research industry standards for picture books. Research the formatting, structure, storylines, average word counts and other relevant technicalities. Also, research if you are writing about a culture other than your own. We all know as Muslims how frustrating it can be when someone is inaccurately represented in different forms of media, and books are no exception.
3. EDIT. I cannot emphasize this enough. This step seems to be the most common sacrifice in Muslim children's literature when the budget is tight. But it is an unfortunate compromise. When you have amazingly talented editors involved, they can really help bring the story to new heights. Aside from technical grammar corrections and sentence structures, they have the skill to point out areas of improvements with storylines and provide honest, professional constructive criticism.
4. ILLUSTRATIONS. Since in picture books the illustrations tell half of the story, it is important for your audience to be looking at books that are visually appealing. If the kids find the pictures to be bland, no matter how exciting the text might be, they will not be drawn to it.
5. ONE THEME. Do not try to teach your readers too much information into one picture book. Stick to one message you are trying to highlight and elaborate in the story. I have seen way too many Islamic picture books that include 5-6 unrelated hadiths. When we try to overload the readers with too much information, they can sense the forced preaching come through and will not bother to read it more than once.
6. CREATIVE ANGLE. Explore a unique angle to your story instead of the monotonous narration that seems to be consistently present in most Muslim/Islamic books. The choice of words and language used in a story matter.
These tips do not include the additional literacy standards that contribute to making your story complete. @muslimmommyblog has already touched on that aspect recently and I encourage you have a look. (I will share it in my stories)
Let's all do our part in contributing to bring the Muslim Kids Literature at an exceptionally high.