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how to write a board book

How to Write an Awesome Board Book for Babies and Toddlers in 2024

Writing an engaging board book for little ones might seem simple, but creating a book babies will want to chew on again and again takes skill. As a parent, you know how quickly the attention of tiny humans wavers. Captivating illustrations are key, but the story also needs to delight.

In this comprehensive guide, as a professional board book printing manufacturer, we’ll cover everything you need to know about writing irresistible board books, from choosing captivating concepts to locating top-notch illustrators. You’ll also discover vital tips for self-publishing success. Let’s dive in!

how to write a board book

How to Write a Board Book

Step #1: Understand the Board Book Genre

Board books get their name from the thick, sturdy cardboard pages between the covers. They’re designed to withstand grabbing little hands and gnawing gums.

The target audience for board books is babies and toddlers ages 0-3. At this stage of development, attention spans are limited, so less is more. Most board books have 10-15 spreads and no more than 100 words.

There are two main types of board books:

Concept Focused

Alphabet books, counting books, colors, shapes, and opposites are concept books. They introduce and reinforce basic ideas.

Story Focused

Books centered around characters, journeys, and activities tell simple stories. Plot and conflict take a backseat to experience.

No matter the type, vibrant illustrations are vital, as babies naturally focus more on images than words.

Step #2: Home In On High-Potential Concepts

When writing a board book, the concept is key. Consider premises that:

  • Introduce new object concepts like vehicles, animals, or foods
  • Encourage movement and physical interaction
  • Help distinguish facial expressions and emotions
  • Explore contrasts like big/little, up/down, day/night
  • Utilize patterns and repetition
  • Incorporate rhymes and songs from popular childhood rhythms
  • Leverage trending topics like dinosaurs, unicorns, monsters, etc.
  • Align with developmental milestones like using a sippy cup or identifying body parts

You’ll also want to research the competition for your concept in online marketplaces like Amazon. Are there plenty of books about excavators already? Maybe focus your dump truck adventure elsewhere.

Step #3 Refine Age-Appropriate Rhymes

Babies love singsong refrains in rhyme. The trick is keeping rhymes simple, as younger children have a tough time with complex words and patterns beyond couplets AA BB CC DD.

When writing rhymes:

  • Favor short, one syllable words
  • Repeat words frequently
  • Include sounds and patterns from popular nursery songs
  • Reinforce rhyme through illustration
  • Use predictable rhyme schemes
  • Keep sentences 3-6 words long

An example rhyme might go:

Rain, rain, falling down
Pitter patter on the ground

Work rhymes organically into the manuscript instead of forcing awkward rhymes. Always read rhymes aloud to make sure they roll off the tongue.

Step #4: Construct Captivating Content

With simple stories and basic concepts, creating compelling content for board books is more challenging than it seems.

Make sure to:

  • Use age-appropriate words: Favor familiar nouns like ball, cat, tree. Skip complex verbs when possible.
  • Keep sentence length short: Stick to 3-6 word sentences.
  • Limit word count: With 10-15 spreads, 50-150 words is best.
  • Feature repetition: Repeating words, sounds, and refrainsn appeal to young readers.
  • Incorporate movement: Include physical actions like clapping or jumping.
  • Add sensory details: Use touch, taste, smell, sound.
  • Build engaging stories: Feature sympathetic characters on relatable journeys.
  • End on a high note: Whether concept-based or story-focused−end happily to satisfy readers.

While crafting the manuscript, continually read passages aloud. If a passage trips you up, it will definitely confuse young listeners trying to process content. Refine clunky areas prior to pairing with illustrations.

Step #5: Source Stunning Illustrations

With board books, dazzling design does some of the heavy lifting when captivating younger audiences. Illustrations should:

  • Support and extend the text
  • Provide visual interest even for non-readers
  • Clarify meaning and story
  • Depict relatable situations
  • Feature sympathetic characters
  • Encourage interaction through movement and gestures

If you’re not an illustrator yourself, websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and DeviantArt offer access to talented children’s book illustrators.

When reviewing portfolios, look for:

  • Appealing artistic style
  • Skill depicting people, animals
  • Ability to evoke emotion
  • Clean, cohesive imagery
  • Range of characters, settings, moods

Provide potential illustrators with age range, mock-ups of key story spreads, and a sense of style preferences to determine if they can bring the vision for imagery and characters to life.

Step #6: Choose the Right Format

Most self-published board books are printed in small batches rather than print-on-demand, so you’ll need to determine format details upfront:

Page Count: 10-15 pages is typical.

Size: Standard is around 6” x 6”. Mini board books can be as small as 3”x 3”.

Layout: Decide between portrait, landscape, or square layouts. This impacts how text and images arrange.

Binding: Bookbinding style impacts page order. Read physical books to see options.

Create a storyboard laying out pages. This helps visualize page turns, essential for pacing and storytelling flow.

Step #7: Design an Eye-Catching Cover

As the first touchpoint between book and baby, covers must captivate kids AND caregivers.

For the best homegrown cover, you’ll require:

  • A clear title: Communicate story at a glance. Consider how it looks from above in a stroller.
  • Engaging imagery: Bold illustrations in line with interior art reinforce content.
  • Durable construction: Thicker laminate protects the cover and attracts little hands. Gloss tends to hold up better than matte.
  • Quality design elements: Carefully incorporate fonts, colors, visual branding elements. White space helps pop key items.

If cover design isn’t your forte, services like Canva offer quick, affordable premade covers and templates for self-published books.

Step #8 Get Feedback Before Publication

Prior to printing and publishing, it’s wise to gather feedback on board book manuscripts and mock-ups.

Potential sources include:

  • Beta readers: Recruit friends/family with kids in your target age range.
  • Independent editors: Many specialize in children’s manuscripts. Worth the small investment.
  • Test groups: Local daycares might provide input.

Feedback helps identify issues with plot, pacing, rhymes, vocabulary. While painful, criticism prevents problems post-publication!

Ready to Write an Epic Board Book?

And there you have it, a complete guide to writing irresistible board books. With a thorough understanding of early childhood development−and commitment to creating content perfectly suited for your pint-sized audience−you’re ready to try your hand at engaging emerging readers.

Remember, when writing a board book focus on:

  • Foolproof concepts
  • Words and rhymes tiny humans can process
  • Illustrations that reinforce and expand on simple text

Follow the tips above as you craft concise manuscripts and captivating covers–and your book-chewing baby fans will start lining up in no time!

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